An attempt by city councilors to draw attention to fire safety issues at the New Taipei City (新北市) Council yesterday disrupted the session, forcing police to intervene.
Dressed as chefs, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councilors carried six lit torches into the council chamber, just days after a fire at a Greater Taichung pub killed nine people and injured more than 12.
The skit angered New Taipei City Speaker Chen Hsing-chin (陳幸進) and councilors from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Shortly afterwards, police officers burst into the session and extinguished the flames.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), who was present at the meeting, remained expressionless as the “cooks” attempted to serve him dishes designed to symbolize for the need to “keep the heat” on fire regulation violations, the DPP councilors said.
The DPP councilors maintained that their show was safe, despite the police intervention.
“Look, we can simply blow it out,” DPP New Taipei City Councilor Chang Ruei-shan (張瑞山) said. “Of course we looked after our own safety ... there was no need for the speaker to get [involved].”
The councilors’ question-and-answer period with Chu, which involved inquiries on public safety, became chaotic for about five minutes as the two sides clashed verbally on whether the stunt had placed the council in danger.
Chen was quoted in Chinese-language media reports as calling the DPP show “an embarrassment and an embarrassment for the entire council,” adding that it had violated session regulations.
Municipalities nationwide, including Taipei and Greater Kaohsiung, are stepping up fire safety inspections after information that the Greater Taichung pub had passed all 21 inspections it had undergone in the last five years.
Chu told the council that “public safety problems should not be a three-minute issue” and he promised that agencies would conduct more stringent safety checks.