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Taiwan lawmakers brawl amid anger over government’s COVID-19 response

People in masks shove and grab each other
Opposition Nationalist party lawmaker Chen Yu-jen, in white shirt, is grabbed by ruling Democratic Progressive party lawmakers as she tries to climb onto the podium during a session of parliament in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday.
(EBC via Associated Press)

Taiwan’s legislature on Tuesday descended into a rowdy brawl after opposition lawmakers interrupted an important policy address and rushed the podium.

The opposition lawmakers pushed their way to the speaker’s podium as the chamber’s head, Su Tseng-chang, was opening his annual address on the government’s performance with a focus on national security and the economy.

In the ensuing melee, a few lawmakers were shoved to the ground and others poured out bottles of water onto their opponents. Su was unable to give his speech.

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The opposition lawmakers — members of the Nationalist party, or Kuomingtang — broke through the protective barrier formed by members of Su’s party, the ruling Democratic Progress Party, and shouted for the speaker’s resignation over his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nationalist party has persistently criticized the administration’s response to the pandemic. Legislators on Tuesday waved signs that called recently shortened quarantine requirements for pilots a “big breach.”

Taiwan faced a large coronavirus outbreak in May and June in which more than 800 people died. Many suspected the outbreak came from pilots returning home who only had to complete three-day quarantines, before they got sick. The original source of the May outbreak hasn’t been officially confirmed.

Last year, members of the Nationalist party brought pig guts into the chamber and threw them around in a melee to protest Taiwan’s lifting of a ban on American pork products.

On YouTube, where videos of the fight were shared, many comments were supportive of the brawl. Some praised the Kuomingtang for “becoming stronger.”


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