House of flying sofa chairs: Taiwan legislature sees second day of violence

Lawmakers in Taiwan's legislature clashed again over budget for new infrastructure program

Legislators swing sofa chairs at each other during brawl in Legislature.

Legislators swing sofa chairs at each other during brawl in Legislature. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- For a second day in a row, Taiwan's Legislative Yuan was the scene of skirmishes between rival lawmakers over the budget for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program (前瞻基礎建設計畫), with sofa chairs the weapon of choice for legislators this time around.

Much like Thursday, Premiere Lin Chuan (林全) was yet again blocked from giving his planned speech detailing the budget for the ambitious infrastructure plan at an extraordinary legislative session to discuss the plan by a rowdy crowd of opposition Kuomintang (KMT) legislators. In a repeat of Thursday's tactics, the KMT legislators surrounded the podium were Lin Chuan was originally due to speak, and set off deafening, eardrum-shattering air horns, blew whistles, tossed fake bank notes about, and carried placards with slogans like "Send back the illegal provision for reconsideration."

Legislators scuffle as a water balloon flies toward a legislator's head. (CNA image)

As DPP legislators tried to approach the podium and make way for Lin Chuan, KMT legislators started hurling water balloons which rapidly escalated to the two sides swinging sofa chairs at each other.

Legislators battle each other with chairs. (CNA image)

As Lin Chuan waited on the sidelines for an opportunity to proceed, a water balloon sailed nearby, prompting him to leave and essentially causing the session to end. Lin Chuan will no longer give the speech to the Legislature, and will instead hand printed versions of the budget to the Finance Committee for discussions at a later date.

After the dust settled, DPP Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘), convener of the Legislature's Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee posted a photo on his Facebook page of fellow DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) applying ice to her face after she was struck in the eye by a water balloon. Tsai wrote on the post saying, "Ting suffering, after being hit the eye by a water balloon, applying ice, this kind of KMT boycott tactic has no class!"

DPP Legislator placing ice on her face. (Tsai Yi-yu Facebook page)

DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) claims he was hit in the face with a water balloon hurled by KMT caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲). In a post on his Facebook page, Wu said he tried to discourage KMT legislators from throwing water balloons. It is very ugly and shameful, but also was the worst demonstration of behavior to the people of Taiwan, said Wu.

Wu added that the KMT legislators became irrational and would not listen to reason and continued to throw the balloons. He said it was only then as an act of self defense that he picked up a chair to protect himself.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the skirmish, KMT legislative caucus whip Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟) sought treatment at the National Taiwan University Hospital for heart palpitations, dizziness, and a headache. The initial diagnosis was high blood pressure, but more tests will be needed to be certain.

Liao Kuo-tung receiving treatment at the National Taiwan University Hospital. (CNA image)

Fake bank notes strewn by KMT legislators as part of protest against budget. (CNA photo)

The Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program is one of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's signature proposals and is to include the construction of new light rail lines, flood control measures, and green energy facilities. However, the KMT is against the project claiming that it favors cities and those loyal to the DPP, and will be used to support the party in the next round of regional elections.

The KMT is also critical of the NT$420 billion ($13.8 billion) price tag for the project, though this amount is half of the NT$882.5 billion originally proposed.