Political turmoil rocks Taiwan

Deputies beaten by a controversial parliamentary reform that seeks greater control of the Executive

Three days before the new president was sworn in, images of the chaotic scenes that took place inside the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s Parliament, made the rounds in the international media arena: deputies beaten over a controversial parliamentary reform that seeks greater control of the Executive. Five legislators ended up in the hospital.

Three days after the new president was inaugurated, fighter jets and warships surrounded Taiwan. The Chinese military launched a major invasion drill on Thursday and Friday on the self-ruled island that Beijing considers a breakaway province. There was a military blockade and Chinese fighters carried out simulated attacks on the island’s critical infrastructure.

It is being a quite hectic start to the legislature for Lai Ching-te (64 years old), the doctor who has just started a third consecutive term for the Democratic Progressive Party (PDP), the pro-independence party that won the elections in January.

If the geopolitical focus was on the dangerous pressure maneuvers of the Chinese forces, in Taipei, already accustomed to the neighbor’s threats, the center of attention was on the internal political brawls. On Friday night, tens of thousands of people, the vast majority young PDP supporters, They protested in front of Parliament against the opposition’s proposal for the legislature to have more powers to monitor the Executivewhich would make the governance of the PDP, which is in a minority in the chamber, difficult.

Newspapers close to the ruling party point out that there were more than 100,000 people who participated in the protest after a second reading of the controversial bill was held in the chamber, which will continue next week. Among the protesters were also several jurists who consider that this “potentially unconstitutional” amendment is a slap in the face to Taiwan’s democracy.

The main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), has gained a majority with the third force, the Taiwan People’s Party, to try to push through an expansion of Parliament’s powers that makes it a crime for government officials to lie in parliamentary hearings, something that can be punished with up to one year in prison.

Although the part of the bill that worries the PDP the most is that parliamentarians may demand to know classified military information. Some officials maintain, pointing out the closeness of some sectors of the KMT to Beijing, that this could lead to continued intelligence leaks that would jeopardize the security advances that Taipei has been pursuing for some time.

From the PDP they accuse the opposition of “conspiring with the Chinese Communist Party”, while KMT politicians defend that Taiwan’s current political system grants too much power to the president, and that in any democracy in the world the work of the Executive must be supervised by Parliament.

Another section of the bill that What does not convince protesters is an infrastructure plan for high-speed rail and better roads on the east coast of the island, an area prone to earthquakes, landslides and typhoons. Critics argue that the funds (more than 56 billion euros) that are intended to be allocated for this project would be subtracted from the national budgets allocated for the army to improve its deterrence tactics against an attack from China.

The discussions continue in the Taiwanese capital while in Beijing they boasted over the weekend of the demonstration of military force during the latest drills in which they took out fighters, bombers armed with real missiles and warships near the Taiwanese coast. . The island’s Defense Ministry said 62 Chinese military aircraft and 27 ships operated around Taiwan on Friday.

In Beijing they rub their hands against any political instability that explodes on the island that functions de facto like any other independent country. Some analysts are comparing the protests these days with the sunflower movement of 2014, when thousands of Taiwanese demonstrated against a trade agreement between the Chinese and Taiwanese governments, then led by the KMT.

 
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