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Tax-bill debate sparks lawmaker brawl in Taiwan

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A brawl broke out Tuesday in a parliamentary session in Taiwan as angry lawmakers scuffled over a tax bill — belying the remarks of a visiting Chinese activist who was hailing the island's democracy in the very next room.

The fights started as the lawmakers debated the merits of a capital gains tax, and both sides fought to speak at the podium, Fox News reported. Television broadcasts showed two female lawmakers battling it out while a third sprayed coffee at her political opponents. Another burst into tears after being pushed off the podium, the Bangkok Post reported.

But the kicker was the Chinese visitor, internally known blind activist Chen Guangchen, who simultaneously was delivering a speech on the positives of Taiwan's democracy in a room right next to the chaos.

"I would rather see brawls in parliament than tanks driving in streets and squares," he commented, as the Post reported, making a reference to China's bloody crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. "Taiwan's success is a beacon in the Chinese world. Democracy is not easily obtained, it needs to be treasured and protected to allow it to mature, expand and develop."

The tax bill that started the row dealt with capital gains on stock shares, which the government said was necessary to bridge the rich-poor divide. Business groups and stock investors began protesting the measure shortly after it went into effect in January.

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