TAIPEI, TAIWAN - A brawl broke out among lawmakers of the Legislative Yuan's Education and Culture Committee, yesterday, as they reviewed a bill that would open Taiwan universities to mainland Chinese students.
During the fight, KMT lawmaker Chao Li-yun, who chaired the committee meeting, passed out from asphyxia after being suffocated by her colleagues. At press time, she was still resting at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) and was visited by several of her colleagues from the party.
Whether the bill has passed first reading is still open to debate. The ruling Kuomintang said it has, while the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it hasn't. A bill needs to go through three readings to become law.
The incident began yesterday morning when the committee was getting ready to review the bill. DPP members of the committee positioned themselves throughout the meeting room, seeking to prevent the meeting from starting.
At 8:50 a.m., Education Minister Wu Ching-chi walked into the room, getting ready for a Q&A session with lawmakers. DPP lawmakers ambushed him, seeking to prevent him from reaching his seat.
DPP lawmaker Kuan Pi ling, meanwhile, took out an e-mail message she intercepted. The mail was sent from the Association of National Universities of Taiwan to chancellors of several major universities, asking them to support the bill.
Coincidentally, Tuesday night, nine university chancellors voiced their support for the legislation. Kuan raised her suspicion the chancellors did this so they could get money from the Ministry of Education.
At 9 a.m., Lawmaker Chao called the meeting to start. DPP then ambushed Chao, seeking to prevent her from proceeding further.
Seeing this, Chao's KMT colleagues rushed to Chao's seat and tried to help her fend off the attacks.
Skirmishes broke out at Chao's seat as well as at other places in the room. Popular singer turned-DPP lawmaker Yu Tien tried to turn Chao's table over. DPP lawmaker William Lai and KMT lawmaker Hung Hsiu-chu both jumped on the table and fought on it.
At 9:17 a.m., Chao announced the bill will be sent to the entire Legislature for further review. Some lawmakers suffocated her, and she passed out. DPP's Kuan, meanwhile, also said she sustained injuries during the brawl and was taken to NTUH at 9:50 a.m., accompanied by her colleague Chen Ting-fei.
The whole thing came to an end at 9:55 a.m. when the meeting was adjourned.