Sat, May 08, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Headbutts, chokeholds: all in a legislative day's work

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AP

The Legislative Yuan erupted into chaos yesterday, with legislators headbutting and choking each other before a vote was finally held to pass a resolution supporting the nation's World Health Organization observership bid.

Independent legislator Chu Hsing-yu (朱星羽) punched Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lai Ching-te (賴清德) in the stomach while trying to wrestle him onto a desk in the legislature yesterday in the latest display of parliamentary violence.

Later, the feisty lawmaker took two breathalyzer tests to prove his sobriety after his sparring partner claimed he'd been drinking.

The legislative caucases originally had an understanding to pass the motion before the World Health Assembly started this year, but because of Chu's grudge against the DPP, a result of its opposition to Chu's bill to cancel bonuses for tax investigators, Chu boycotted the motion from the DPP caucus yesterday.

Cable TV stations showed Chu -- who has a reputation for unruly behavior -- approach Lai and begin bumping his shoulder against Lai's as colleagues tried to separate them.

The stocky Chu grabbed Lai by his jacket collar, tying to wrestle him down on a desk. Chu then tried to headbutt Lai and eventually jabbed him in the stomach, before lawmakers pulled them apart.

Lai said he wasn't hurt, and that he'd "smelled alcohol very clearly when he [Chu] was close."

"Legislators should take an alcohol test before meetings," he joked. "Otherwise this will influence the country no less than drunk driving affects traffic."

Chu denied he'd drunk any alcohol. He called a traffic policeman into the legislature and took two breathalyzer tests in front of the TV cameras.

"Both times it was zero," Chu said as he showed off the slips of paper with the test results.

After the fight, the motion underwent an anonymous vote, and the majority of legislators agreed to pass the motion. But Chu again demanded further negotiations.

The sitting was forced to break, and several DPP legislators tried to placate Chu.

The motion then went through another vote after the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) demanded an open vote, and it finally passed with only one vote against it. Chu voted in favor of the motion.

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