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Taiwan parliament resumes vote limiting executive power

Taiwan's lawmakers jostled, held up banners and shouted at each other on Tuesday in a dispute over opposition-driven efforts to expand parliamentary oversight, despite dissent from the ruling party, which says no there have been consultations.

The dispute comes at a time when Lai Ching-te took office on Monday (20) as the new president, facing not only an angry China, which sees him as a “separatist”, but also a fragmented parliament, after his Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) have lost its majority.

Several hundred people gathered in front of parliament to protest the reforms and accused the opposition of working together with China and trying to end democracy.

The two main opposition parties, the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Taiwan People's Party (PPT), which together have enough seats for a majority, have come together to support reforms that give parliament greater scrutiny over the government.

This includes a controversial proposal for lawmakers to punish officials found to be disrespectful to parliament, making false statements or “withholding information,” which the PDP says has no clear definition.

While there was no repeat of Friday's scenes of lawmakers exchanging blows in Parliament, PDP lawmakers wore bandanas reading “Democracy is dead” demanded more discussion on the proposals and vented their anger at the KMT.

“On the speaker's platform today is not the KMT or the PPT. It’s Xi Jinping,” Ker Chien-ming, leader of the PDP bench, told the chamber, referring to the president of China.

His comments provoked cries of “Shut up!” from the opposition camp, some of whom brandished signs that read: “Reforming parliament, let the sunlight in.”

The KMT accused the PDP of trying to “spread rumors and paint them red,” the colors of China's ruling Communist Party, in an attempt to stifle reforms.

“The PDP incites populism and its anti-reform actions have no basis to stand on,” said KMT spokesman Yang Chih-yu.

Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind, winner of this year's RuPaul's Drag Race, briefly appeared at the protest rally to offer support.

“I respect parliament, but I hope parliament can do the things we respect and respect our democratic procedures,” she said. “As a Taiwanese citizen, I think we should stand up.”

Current reform proposals “excessively expand” the power of lawmakers, Chang Hung-lin, head of Citizen Congress Watch, a nongovernmental group that advocates citizen oversight of parliament, told Reuters, although the group supports an existing effort to give parliament more government oversight.

The current proposals, some of which passed second reading on Tuesday, give lawmakers the right to demand that parties such as defense officials and private companies testify in parliament without proper checks and balances, he said.

Source: CNN Brasil

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