A group of more than 20 lawmakers from Taiwan’s main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT) occupied the legislature overnight on Monday to protest government “tyranny” and the president’s nomination of a close aide to a high-level watchdog.
Taiwan is a rambunctious democracy and fights and protests inside the parliament building are not an uncommon occurrence.
In 2014, hundreds of students occupied parliament for weeks in protests nicknamed the Sunflower Movement, demanding more transparency and fearful of China’s growing economic and political influence on the Chinese-claimed island.
The KMT, trounced in January’s parliamentary and presidential elections, began their protest in parliament late Sunday and remained there overnight into Monday, blocking entry to the main chamber with chains and chairs.
The KMT said it was protesting the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and President Tsai Ing-wen’s forcing though of bills and Tsai’s nomination of her senior aide Chen Chu to head the Control Yuan, a government watchdog.
“This year, the Tsai administration has become more tyrannical than before,” the KMT said in a statement. “Tsai’s obstinacy had left the KMT with no alternative but to occupy the Legislative Yuan for a parliamentary boycott.”
The DPP has a large parliamentary majority.
Both the DPP and the presidential office condemned the action, with the DPP saying the KMT was orchestrating a “farce”.
“This is simply trampling on the respect of their own members of parliament,” the DPP said.
The KMT, which traditionally favours close ties with China, is undergoing a policy revamp led by its youthful new leader Johnny Chiang to try and win back popular support.
Earlier this month the KMT mayor of the major southern city of Kaohsiung lost a recall vote by a huge margin, in another setback for the party.