Taiwan Lawmakers’ Tussle Blocks Appearance by Central Banker

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan’s central bank governor was prevented from appearing in the legislature because lawmakers got into shoving matches over a bill put forward by the opposition.

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Yang Chin-long and Financial Supervisory Commission Chairperson Peng Jin-lung were supposed to report to lawmakers Monday morning on plans for a digital currency.

The meeting was postponed until Wednesday after some lawmakers who were to meet with Yang and Peng went to an area where the scuffles were happening.

The dispute is related to a bill that the opposition put forward to make it harder to recall elected officials. One legislator appeared to have suffered a cut chin in the heated confrontations and another complained she was scratched.

Politics in the archipelago of 23 million people at the center of China-US tensions have been in turmoil since President Lai Ching-te took office in May, mostly because he is dealing with Taiwan’s first divided government since 2008.

Lai, of the Democratic Progressive Party, won just 40% of the vote in January, while the Kuomintang and Taiwan People’s Party formed a coalition to control the legislature. Weeks after Lai took office in May, opposition lawmakers passed measures that enhanced the legislature’s ability to investigate the president and officials.

Taiwan’s markets have largely shrugged off the political fractiousness. The benchmark Taiex stocks gauge rose 1.4% on Monday, taking its gain since Lai was inaugurated to about 12%. The advance, driven by the artificial intelligence boom, is the biggest in Asia over the period.

The Taiwan dollar slipped 0.1% on the day to 32.50 versus the greenback.

Taiwan experienced the biggest protests in years before the law was passed, adding to the difficulties Lai has faced given Beijing has ramped up pressure on his government, including with major military drills.

Earlier this month, opposition lawmakers used the bill for the first time against the government, announcing a probe into the authorities’ role in granting a broadcasting permit to a new television station.

The latest dispute in the legislature centers on efforts by the opposition to pass a bill that would make it harder to remove elected officials from their posts.

Lawmakers could be seen pushing and shoving each other starting in the morning, repeating episodes seen in the run-up to the passage of the law in June. A DPP lawmaker, Lin Chu-yin, said she suffered a cut on the chin in the scuffle.

The hearing on the recall bill was halted for the day due to the confrontations, the semi-official Central News Agency said.

A similar disruption on Thursday last week prompted the cancellation of an appearance before lawmakers of National Security Bureau head Tsai Ming-yen.

Tsai did meet with lawmakers on Monday. When asked about China detaining a Taiwan fishing boat and two crew members from the archipelago, he said the Chinese Coast Guard had been more active recently.

The world was watching China’s “expansionary moves,” Tsai added.

China has said the nation’s Chinese Coast Guard was conducting “normal law enforcement.”

(Updates with details of spy chief’s comments to lawmakers and market reaction.)

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