Taiwan lawmakers brawl as opposition assails COVID-19 policy

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

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's legislature descended into a rowdy brawl after opposition lawmakers interrupted a policy address and rushed the podium Tuesday.

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.

The opposition lawmakers — members of the Nationalist party, or Kuomingtang — broke through the protective barrier formed by members of Su's own party, the ruling Democratic Progress Party, as they shouted for the speaker's resignation.

The Nationalist party has criticized the ruling administration over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Legislators on Tuesday waved signs which called recently shortened quarantine requirements for pilots a “big breach."

More than 800 people died in Taiwan's largest coronavirus outbreak in May and June this year. The source of the outbreak hasn't been confirmed but many people suspect the virus spread from pilots returning home from overseas who only had to do three-day quarantines.

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

On YouTube, where videos of the fight were shared, some commenters praised the Kuomingtang for “becoming stronger.”