Fists were raised and punches thrown in the Taiwanese parliament, early Friday, as a political battle over a nuclear power plant turned into an all-out brawl.
Lawmakers fought and threw water at each other ahead of an expected vote that would authorize a referendum on whether to finish a fourth nuclear power plant on the densely populated island of 23 million.
Associated Press television footage shows some eight people pushing and shoving in one scrum and two people scuffling on the floor, while others try to separate them.
A few water bottles were also thrown into the fray as more than a dozen activists in bright yellow shirts chanted and waved signs on a nearby balcony. Several of them splashed water onto lawmakers below.
Construction on the plant began in 1997, but was halted between 2000 and 2008 when the republic’s main opposition party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was in power.
“The DPP believes the plant should not be built without a complete safety assessment and a national referendum is unnecessary,” a spokesman told the Taipei Times.
“Commercial operation of the plant would threaten the life and property of Taiwanese and endanger the island’s sustainable development,” they added.
The party has long opposed nuclear power generation on safety grounds, particularly given the high incidence of earthquakes on the island.
Arguing for the referendum was President Ma Ying-jeou's ruling Nationalist Party who said that economic analyses suggest that the island will suffer disruptive power shortages if the plant is not completed.
Despite the protest the referendum bill is expected to pass easily because of a large Nationalist majority in the 113-seat legislature.
It is the second time in two months that a fistfight has broken out in the parliament, as MP's clashed over capital gains tax on June 25.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published August 2 2013, 2:38 AM