Legislators threw objects, splashed water and kicked one another yesterday at the legislature, with two ending up in hospital after a brawl over disagreements on how the recently signed cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) should be reviewed.
During the scuffle, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), heavily guarded by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators on the speaker’s podium, announced that the Legislative Yuan had approved the KMT caucus’ proposal to allow the ECFA and a cross-strait copyright protection agreement to skip preliminary review.
Clashes had been expected as lawmakers interrupted their recess for the week-long debate, with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus insisting the agreement should be reviewed article by article, a demand flatly rejected by the KMT caucus.
The ECFA was signed in the Chinese city of Chongqing on Tuesday last week. The KMT government has hailed the ECFA, saying it would bolster Taiwan’s economy, but the opposition claims it would jeopardize Taiwan’s sovereignty and make the country too economically dependent on China.
Yesterday’s legislative session degenerated into turmoil almost from the moment it began. Lawmakers from the two sides pushed and shoved around the -speaker’s dais, exchanging blows and -throwing objects at each other, including garbage cans and tea cups.
At one point, DPP lawmakers Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) and Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) broke through a phalanx of KMT lawmakers surrounding the dais in an apparent effort to get to Wang, but were quickly overwhelmed and pushed down. DPP Legislator Kuo Wen-chen (郭玟成) also attempted to get to the dais to block the session, falling off the podium during a scuffle with KMT legislators.
As this was happening, KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), who was standing next to Wang, was hit by what appears to have been a timer, leaving the corner of his right eye bleeding.
In the meantime, another group of KMT legislators trapped DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) in one corner while DPP legislators Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) and others demanded that the ECFA be reviewed article by article.
Shortly afterwards, Kuo was sent to Taiwan University Hospital nearby, suffering a broken rib.
“It hurt a lot,” he said.
Wu was also taken to National Taiwan University and received eight stitches.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) later admitted he threw the timer into the air. He apologized to Wu and said he was willing to foot his medical bill.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) also visited Wu Yu-sheng and Kuo at hospital. The premier told -media that while he was happy to see lawmakers display earnestness in reviewing the ECFA, he worried that when things got out of hand, lawmakers could get injured.
After the provisional session ended, KMT Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) accused DPP legislators of scratching and biting his arm while KMT -legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) and Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) held DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) responsible for the clashes.
The DPP caucus issued its own accusations, saying Wang had lost his impartiality as legislative speaker.
DPP Secretary-General Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) also questioned yesterday’s procedure, saying that Wang did not call for a vote when the DPP lawmakers voiced their opposition to the KMT caucus’ proposal on the legislative floor.