Taiwan Lawmakers Brawl in Parliament Over Nuclear Plant Vote

Taiwan lawmakers put each other in headlocks and wrestled on the floor of the legislature as the opposition party moved to occupy the president’s pulpit in a bid to stave off a vote on a nuclear power plant.

Democratic Progressive Party legislators, who oppose further construction of the plant in northern Taiwan, grappled with ruling party Kuomintang lawmakers today, local cable news networks reported.

A legislative vote to decide if there should be a wider popular ballot on the project was delayed, preventing Legislative Yuan President Wang Jing-pyng from opening the session. The Kuomintang, known as the KMT, holds 65 seats compared to the DPP’s 40.

“The ruling party shouldn’t use the violence of majority rule to push through the nuclear power plant project,” DPP spokesman Jason Lin said in a statement today. “We support the hard work of our party members.”

DPP lawmakers will stay in the legislature through the weekend until Aug. 6, when debate on the bill is scheduled to conclude, according to Lin.

The KMT may seek a special session for lawmakers in order to pass the bill by the end of August, the Taipei-based Apple Daily reported, citing the executive director of the KMT’s policy committee, Lin Hung-chih.

People’s Choice

Nearly 70,000 people in major cities across Taiwan protested in March, two years after Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear meltdown, against Taiwan’s NT$264 billion ($8.8 billion) Longmen Nuclear Power Plant. The plant is located 25 miles east of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou has pledged to abandon atomic energy as soon as economically- and environmentally-viable alternatives can be found.

The Chinese National Federation of Industries estimated alternative energy may lead to a 14 percent rise in electricity prices by 2018, according to TVBS. The Federation represents more than 100,000 manufacturers on the island.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah has reiterated his support for the public to decide on the destiny of the plant. “We hope the debate ahead of the referendum will provide more information to the public so that they can make a choice,” he said, according to a July 30 statement on the cabinet’s website.

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