Sparks fly over NSC budget at legislative meet

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Oct 23, 2008 - Page 3

Two female legislators became embroiled in a confrontation during a meeting of the Education and Culture Committee yesterday during a preliminary review of the National Science Council’s budget request.

Three Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers held up signs that read “Full control of the government means full authoritarianism” when the meeting began in a bid to boycott the committee’s review of the budget proposal.

The three legislators want to submit a proposal to cut the council’s budget but need another legislator to endorse their request in order to put it on the agenda.

The DPP only has three seats in the committee, however, so their initiative has been put aside.

The council is requesting NT$35.9 billion (US$1.08 billion) for the next fiscal year.

During the review, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) slapped Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) on the face after Hung accidentally injured Kuan’s assistant in the eye as Hung was trying to push a poster away.

Kuan and Hung got into a heated exchange, with Hung accusing Kuan of staging a “show” and Kuan scolding Hung for hurting her assistant.

In the end, the committee cut NT$152.8 million from the budget request before passing it.

After the meeting, the KMT caucus and Hung condemned Kuan for “resorting to violence.”

“This was not a slap on my face. It was a slap on Taiwan’s democracy and law,” Hung said.

KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) later called upon DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to issue an apology for the conflict.

When asked for comment, Kuan said she slapped Hung because she “couldn’t take it anymore.”

“I’m willing to take full responsibility [for the incident],” Kuan said.