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Taiwan’s Parliamentary Brawl: Debate Rages over Nuclear Plant

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Asia Life

Taiwan’s Parliamentary Brawl: Debate Rages over Nuclear Plant

Punches and water flew in Taiwan’s Parliament last Friday as the debate over a nuclear plant grew heated.

A brawl erupted during Taiwan’s parliamentary session last Friday, with lawmakers flinging water and trading punches over the proposed construction of a fourth nuclear power plant. Photos and video of the action can be seen here.

Pro-referendum forces led valiantly by President Ma Ying-jeou’s Nationalist Party were pitted against the anti-nuclear power forces of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Although the DPP has long opposed using nuclear power to generate electricity in Taiwan, the ruling Nationalist Party has a majority of 65 seats in the 113-seat legislature, suggesting a nod to pass the bill is likely.

“The ruling party shouldn’t use the violence of majority rule to push through the nuclear power plant project,” DPP spokesman Jason Lin said in a statement. “We support the hard work of our party members.”

The DPP is not engaged in fisticuffs for nothing. Taiwan is earthquake prone and the case of Japan’s Fukushima gives ample reason to be wary of expanding nuclear power. The Taiwanese public is also keenly aware of these dangers and popular support for the bill is reportedly low.

According to Bloomberg, nearly 70,000 people in major cities across Taiwan protested plans to build the Longmen Nuclear Power Plant, a NT$264 billion ($8.8 billion) complex 25 miles east of Taipei. Construction of the plant, the island’s fourth, began in 1997, but was brought to a standstill when the DPP came to power in 2000 and 2008. If the referendum passes, the plant would be completed and operational by 2016.

This was not the first time that Taiwan’s politicians have tussled. Just this June, in fact, around 50 Taiwanese officials threw down in parliament over capital gains tax laws. Women were in on the action too, pulling hair and shoving. One female politician was pried from the podium by a male official as cries filled the chamber.

In this earlier fracas, ruling Nationalist officials were taking control of the podium in an attempt to bar the opposition party from revoking Taiwan’s capital gains tax. In fact, these two incidents are but part of a long history of brawls in Taiwan’s parliament.

Nor is Taiwan alone. From politicians in Korea warring over a free school meal program to officials getting physical in the Indian parliament and Pakistani officials duking it out on live television, there is a rich history of political fighting across Asia – and throughout the world.

A sampling of some of the best brawls in all officialdom, caught on video, can be seen here.