Taiwan legislators brawl over how to spend S$17b

Lawmakers pelt each other with water balloons while arguing over the budget for an infrastructure development plan on Wednesday.
Democratic Progressive Party legislator Chao Tien-lin (left) scuffles with Kuomintang legislators during a budget meeting for the infrastructure development programme, at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, on July 18, 2017.
Democratic Progressive Party legislator Chao Tien-lin (left) scuffles with Kuomintang legislators during a budget meeting for the infrastructure development programme, at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, on July 18, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Politicians scuffled in Taiwan's Parliament on Tuesday (July 18) during a heated debate over how billions of dollars for an infrastructure development plan will be allocated.

Members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition Kuomintang (KMT) threw water and shoved each other to the floor of the legislature, according to video of the melee shown on Taiwan's FTV network.

The DPP-backed Infrastructure Development Programme was approved this month and is aimed at bolstering domestic demand and rebalancing the island's economy away from its reliance on exports.

The US$12.6 billion (S$17.23 billion) plan was only half the size of the original stimulus plan announced by the Cabinet in March, part of the DPP's political compromise to get it through Parliament.

Opposition lawmakers had criticised the original plan as going beyond the four-year term limit of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her party.

The fracas was fuelled by a disagreement over how the funds should be allocated.

Taiwan's legislators are known for brawls that occasionally involve throwing objects such as microphones and water balloons.

Fights in Parliament are seen as one way for the opposition to show voters that it stands tough on issues.

Parliamentary debate descending to physical violence is hardly an issue unique to Taiwan, with legislators in many countries including Turkey, Ukraine and South Korea also having come to blows in the past.