Fighting again in Taiwan parliament over disputed nomination

July 17, 2020 - 4:43 PM
Lawmakers from Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with lawmakers from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party throw water balloons at each other inside the parliament in Taipei, Taiwan, July 17, 2020. (Reuters/Ann Wang)

TAIPEI — 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.

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 nomination this week.

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 favors 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.

Kaohsiung’s previous KMT mayor was thrown out of office in a recall vote in June. —Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ann Wang; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard. Editing by Gerry Doyle