Thu, Dec 23, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Argument over sugar tariffs sparks brawl in legislature

AFP , TAIPEI

A legislator attacked a colleague yesterday as passions became heated during a discussion on sugar tariffs.

Independent legislator Chu Hsing-yu (朱星羽) threw several punches at Yu Cheng-tao (余政道) of the Democratic Progressive Party after Yu objected to the bill he proposed.

Surprise Attack

Chu's attack caught Yu unprepared and he had no time to fight back before the two were separated by several other legislators.

The brief brawl, which was also broadcast by cable news channels, then turned into a shouting match between the two lawmakers.

"Is the public welfare more important or are personal interests more important?" Yu asked his attacker.

"What do you want? ... I am not afraid of you," Chu yelled back.

Sugary Allegations

Yu alleged that the domestic market has become a monopoly since it was conditionally opened to foreign sugar suppliers in 2002 after Taiwan joined the WTO.

He blamed Chu, who pushed for legislation to cut tariffs and increase the quota for imported sugar, for failing to protect local cane growers.

Chu denied he was lobbying for interest groups.

The legislature is known for its occasional brawls, including fist fights.

In October, legislators from opposing parties got into a food fight -- throwing lunch boxes and teacups at each other -- during heated arguments about a special defense budget.

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