Lawmakers from Taiwan's primary opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) threw pig intestines before exchanging punches with other legislators during a parliament session Friday, in what could literally be the messiest political fight in the island state's history.
The bizarre parliament brawl broke out during a protest against imports of U.S. beef and pork on Friday, after months of mounting tension between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang.
In a policy speech by Taiwan premier Su Tseng-chang, members of the KMT blew whistles and threw buckets of pig innards. When DPP legislators interfered, the situation intensified into a frenzied fistfight. The outcome exposed torn placards and raw pig internal organs scattered across the floor. The melee erupted in front of a big audience of news reporters, many of whom captured the scuffle on video.
In August, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced that the government would allow imports of U.S. beef and pork containing ractopamine, a controversial ingredient that enhances meat leanness but is banned in China and the European Union, including U.S. beef that is over 30 months old.
Opponents fear that ractopamine is a health hazard, tapping into public worries about food safety in the wake of multiple scandals in recent years. The KMT has alleged that the government is rushing the new policies through.
The Taiwanese opposition bloc has taken advantage of the doubts of ractopamine to rally support against the DPP. It has encouraged violent demonstrations, including a march involving thousands of protesters last weekend.
According to the KMT, "in order to protect people's health and safeguard the bottom line of food safety, the opposition party cannot but resist," The Guardian quoted the KMT as saying during Friday's demonstration.
Since the latest parliament session kicked off in the middle of September, the opposition party has opposed the pork ruling by preventing the premier from conveying regular reports and answering questions by occupying the podium where he speaks.
Fed up with the blocking, the DPP decided they would make sure Su could deliver his speech Friday and formed a defensive barricade around him as he made his way in, as KMT legislators blew whistles and sounded air horns.
The DPP denounced the protests, saying in a statement that the "disgusting" pig intestines "stank up" the parliament floor and a waste of food. Taiwan is a rowdy democracy, and physical squabbles and protests are not unusual in its legislative chamber.