Taiwan legislature erupts in violence over ‘secret spending’ bill | Political news

KMT lawmakers are trying to block the bill which they say could be used to overturn ex-president Chen Shui-bian’s corruption conviction.

Taipei, Taiwan- Taiwan’s parliament erupted in violence on Monday as lawmakers clashed over a bill that critics say could be used to overturn former President Chen Shui-bian’s corruption conviction.

The heckling came after dozens of opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers, armed with placards and loudspeakers, took to the podium in the legislative chamber early in the morning to prevent a third reading of the bill of law.

Lawmakers pushed and shoved and threw water and paper as tensions over the bill boiled over.

A member of the ruling party, the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), was slightly injured in the hand during a clash during which he was dismissed.

The mess died down after an hour, but by noon KMT lawmakers still occupied part of the room with signs in tow.

A KMT spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

KMT lawmakers say President Tsai Ing-wen took advantage of Taiwan’s recent COVID-19 outbreak to pass legislation decriminalizing the use of “secret state expenditures” by the executive branch.

They say the bill could be used retroactively to exonerate Chen, Taiwan’s first chairman of Tsai’s pro-independence DPP, who was embroiled in a 2008 corruption scandal and convicted of embezzlement.

Chen, who ruled the self-governing island between 2000 and 2008, was initially sentenced to life in prison, before his sentence was reduced to 19 years. He is currently released from prison for medical reasons.

Before his fall from grace, Chen was best known for overthrowing the pro-Beijing KMT after decades of one-party rule.

Monday’s brawl was not the first time tensions over the bill have boiled over. A preliminary review of the bill in April also turned heated, according to state media, when KMT lawmakers tried to halt the proceedings and threw out counterfeit bills.

The KMT also used Monday’s protest to criticize the government’s response to the pandemic and the rising death toll from COVID-19, especially young children and the elderly.

After nearly two and a half years of keeping the virus at bay, Taiwan is now battling the worst outbreak in its history, with authorities reporting 70,000 to 90,000 cases every day.

Deaths have also soared to more than 2,000 from 850 in the months before the outbreak, according to Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control.

The deaths include the sudden death of several very young children, which many Taiwanese blame on failings in the healthcare system.

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