The abrupt transfer of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) from a hospital in Taipei to a prison hospital in Greater Taichung disrupted the legislative session yesterday, with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers occupying the floor to boycott the meeting.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers had planned to request a vote in an attempt to push through the government-backed proposal to stage a national referendum on the fate of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) at the session.
The DPP planned to propose an immediate halt to the construction of the plant, a motion the TSU and the People First Party supported.
At 3pm, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) announced that the session was adjourned until Tuesday next week.
Lawmakers engaged in a fierce exchange of words over the relocation of Chen Shui-bian and several KMT lawmakers’ mockery of former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), who previously led several round-the-island walks campaigning for a referendum on the nuclear plant.
With douli, or bamboo hats, on their heads and placards bearing slogans used in Lin’s campaign meant to resemble the clothing of Lin and his followers in the campaign, KMT lawmakers Wu Yu-jen (吳育仁), Yen Kuan-hen (顏寬恒), and six others took a short walk on the floor.
KMT Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元), in the same costume, sat on the ground, mimicking Lin, who staged various sit-in demonstrations in front of the front gate of the legislature to push for the enactment of a referendum act.
While they were performing the imitation, some DPP lawmakers became irritated, with some shouting words such as “shameless” and “nasty.”
DPP lawmakers placed several placards in bird cages with the name of the Referendum Act (公民投票法) in Chinese characters to highlight the flaws in the legislation, one of which was the required turnout of at least half of the electorate for a national referendum to be considered valid.
“The KMT should offer Lin I-hsiung an apology. When the bird-caged Referendum Act was passed, he launched a campaign demanding the KMT make revisions to the law. Now the KMT ridicules him in such a disrespectful manner. It’s disgraceful,” DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said.
KMT legislative caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) was trying to remind the DPP not to forget the spirit and ideals advocated by Lin.
Not long after Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) proposed the referendum, Lin has voiced opposition to the plan, which he called a “prank.”
Lin said that the referendum proposal was “full of political calculations,” and “a cheap trick and a prank that plays the public for fools.”
The Referendum Act laid down “unreasonable and strict” regulations that made the passage of referendums “almost impossible,” Lin said.