Taiwan politicians scuffle during heated spending debate

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Politicians scuffled in Taiwan’s parliament on Tuesday during a heated debate over how billions of dollar for an infrastructure development plan will be allocated.

Members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition Nationalist party threw water and shoved each other to the floor of the legislature, according to video of the melee shown on Taiwan’s FTV network.

The DPP-backed Infrastructure Development Programme was approved this month and is aimed at bolstering domestic demand and rebalancing the island’s economy away from its reliance on exports.

The $12.6 billion (£9.7 billion) plan was only half the size of the original stimulus plan announced by the cabinet in March, part of the DPP’s political compromise to get it through parliament.

Opposition lawmakers had criticized the original plan as going beyond the four-year term limit of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her party.

The fracas was fueled by a disagreement over how the funds should be allocated.

Proudly democratic Taiwan’s legislators are notoriously rambunctious and known for brawls that occasionally involve throwing objects such as microphones and water balloons.

Fights in parliament are seen as one way for the opposition to show voters that it stands tough on issues.

Parliamentary debate descending to physical violence is hardly an issue unique to Taiwan, with legislators in many countries including Turkey, Ukraine and South Korea also having come to blows in the past.

Reporting by Fabian Hamacher; Writing by Karishma Singh