Some unprecedented visuals emerged from Taiwan on Friday when fighting erupted inside and outside of Taiwan’s parliament again on Friday over the disputed nomination by President Tsai Ing-wen of a senior aide to a top government watchdog post, which the main opposition party has labelled cronyism.
This follows Monday's incident when Taiwanese lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) broke through barricades erected by the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) who had occupied it to protest against government "tyranny".
On Friday, the Kuomintang (KMT) has mounted a noisy campaign against the nomination of Chen Chu to head the Control Yuan, an independent government watchdog.
The KMT, soundly beaten by Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in elections in January, this week occupied parliament’s main chamber for three days, trying to thwart Chen from taking the post.
Several KMT lawmakers knocked down voting booths inside the chamber to block DPP legislators from casting ballots over the nomination. KMT has accused the DPP of cheating in part of the vote on the nomination this week. In photos and videos shared by AFP, lawmakers can be seen throwing punches at each other.
DPP lawmakers were seen using boards to block water balloons thrown by opposition Kuomintang legislators.Kaohsiung’s previous KMT mayor was thrown out of office in a recall vote in June.
Fights break out in Taiwan's parliament after President Tsai's nomination of Chen Chu as head of the Control Yuan, the country’s watchdog body. Lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party used boards to block water balloons thrown by opposition Kuomintang legislators pic.twitter.com/JXf14KBbhZ— AFP news agency (@AFP) July 17, 2020
The voting on Friday went ahead despite shouting and protests from KMT lawmakers, who held banners reading “invalid vote”.
About 100 KMT supporters outside parliament fought with police and some tried to break through barricades, calling on the DPP to withdraw the nomination.
“Rejection to cronyism. Withdraw the nomination,” KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang told supporters on the back of a truck outside the parliament.
Taiwan is a boisterous, sometimes unruly democracy. Punch-throwing and rowdy protests are not uncommon in parliament.
The DPP has a large parliamentary majority, and has been angered by the targeting of Chen, who was jailed in 1980 for helping lead pro-democracy demonstrations against the then-KMT government when Taiwan was a dictatorship.
The KMT, under its youthful new leader, Chiang, has been trying to reinvent itself since its election defeat, having failed to shake off DPP accusations they were too pro-China.
The party traditionally favours closer ties with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory.
The KMT faces a further challenge next month in a mayoral by-election in the major southern metropolis of Kaohsiung, traditionally a DPP stronghold.
(With inputs from Reuters)