Step 1 of 3 is complete for the Cabinet’s infrastructure bill — but it wasn’t easy

The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Cabinet’s budget for the “Forward-looking Infrastructure Plan” passed its first reading at the Legislative Yuan today amid contention and chaos.

Seven legislative committees including the Finance Committee continued their dayslong review of the Cabinet’s infrastructure budget in the morning.

The meeting began with lawmakers speaking in order, but conflict ensued when committee chief Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋) began drawing the curtain on the review by reading aloud a list of the lawmakers’ proposals.

Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers, declaring it “an illegal reading,” began tossing water balloons into the air, creating a fright when a balloon struck a light on the ceiling and made it wobble.

Over 120 items proposed by lawmakers were read out while KMT lawmakers threw the balloons and fistfuls of flour near Wang’s table, calling the infrastructure projects “money pits” and demanding that the bill be returned to the Cabinet and rewritten.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) forced his way into the opposition camp, shoving and coming to blows with KMT Secretary-General Lin Wei-chou (林為洲).

Amid the fracas, Wang continued reading the proposals, announcing all 126 items and then declaring the preliminary review of the infrastructure bill complete at 11:42 a.m.

The proposals and the budget will be forwarded to cross-party negotiations for review before coming up for a vote in the general assembly, the final step in the legislation process.

Wang said lawmakers were in the middle of their last opportunity to discuss the budget and that he found it regrettable the committees had been unable to properly conduct interpellation sessions or to negotiate.