Wed, Sep 14, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Legislative session opens with mayhem

NATION'S ELITE Fisticuffs, shouting matches, flying refreshments -- the first day of the new legislative session was entertaining, but not much useful was accomplished

By KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP Legislator Wang Shu-hui, left, attacks KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun, right, after Kuo tore up a copy of Premier Frank Hsieh's policy report that he was scheduled to deliver yesterday at the opening of a new sitting of the legislature.

PHOTO: CNA

Water cups flew and lawmakers held shoving matches in what was likely the start of yet another acrimonious and unproductive legislative session yesterday.

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) was forced to postpone his scheduled policy report until Friday, amid vociferous protests inside and outside the legislative compound.

Chanting "Fight corruption, save Taiwan" and "Re-elect the president and the legislature," pan-blue lawmakers occuppied the legislative floor at 10:20am, holding placards and a white banner reading: "Re-elect the president, vice president, premier and legislature."

Pan-green lawmakers responded by chanting "Dismiss the legislature" and "Begin the session." In addition, some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers held signs reading "Pan-blues, please file a no-confidence vote" and "the government cannot operate in neutral gear."

The first round of lawmaking mayhem climaxed when DPP Legislator Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧) started shoving Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) after Kuo tore up Hsieh's report, strewing the pieces about.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) then ordered a break until 2:30pm.

The turmoil came after pan-blue lawmakers condemned Hsieh during the National Affairs Forum, which preceded yesterday's legislative sitting.

They demanded that Hsieh step down or take personal leave, to avoid any conflict of interest while an independent investigator conducts a probe into a riot last month by Thai workers in Kaohsiung, where Hsieh was formerly mayor.

In a bid to resolve the political stalemate, Wang called an emergency meeting with caucus leaders during the recess, during which the DPP caucus agreed to the KMT caucus' request to establish five commissions of inquiry to probe into different "corruption incidents," in exchange for the pan-blue camp's agreement to let Hsieh deliver his policy report.

The five commissions are to probe Kaohsiung City's mass rapid transit system, the north-south high-speed rail system, the release of the Chunghwa Telecom stake, the privatization of the Taiwan Business Bank and allegations of widespread insider trading on the stock market.

During round two of the legislative sparring, the pan-blue alliance reneged on its promise and resurrected its vocal portests during the afternoon session.

Shortly after that session began, DPP Legislator Lin Chung-mo (林重謨) engaged in a physical clash with KMT legislators Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) and Chu Feng-chih (朱鳳芝) after the premier walked out of the room, apparently upset by the placards placed in front of his desk.

DPP Legislator Kuan Pi-ling (管碧玲) then sprinted to the legislative speaker's desk, and started to tongue-lash pan-blue lawmakers via microphone.

"Why can't I stand here, while opposition parties get to occupy the legislative floor?" she shouted.

The second round of the legislative session ended in style, with Huang Chao-shun and DPP Legislator Lee Ming-hsien (李明憲) starting a water-cup throwing match, trying to hit each other without much success. Finally, DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) and KMT Legislator Wu Ying-yih (吳英毅) went head to head in a brief skirmish that ended with the victorious Hsu pushing Wu to the ground.

Wang then ordered another recess, which lasted for about 15 minutes.

Round three then began, but the session was again disrupted at 3:15pm, when Hsieh tried to take the podium, only to have Huang Chao-shun complain that Wang had failed to inform the legislature of the agreement reached at noon.

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