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In Taiwan’s Democracy, a Punch is Sometimes as Good as a Speech

July 19, 1995

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ To flourish in Taiwan’s youthful democracy, a politician needs powerful speeches, powerful connections _ and a powerful right hook.

Fights broke out twice this week on the legislative floor, the latest in a series of brawls that have marked the island’s transition from virtual dictatorship to multiparty democracy in 1987.

Opposition lawmaker Huang Chao-hui was treated at a hospital Tuesday for a suspected concussion after Lin Ming-yi of the ruling Nationalist Party punched him.

Lin later apologized for the attack, which came after Huang accused Nationalist lawmakers of attending more legislative sessions so they will look better during elections later this year.

On Monday, more than 10 lawmakers traded punches during a brawl started when opposition lawmaker Ju Gau-jeng, nicknamed ``Rambo″ by Taiwanese newspapers, jumped onto the desk of the legislative speaker.

The brawling is nothing new. Last year, dozens of lawmakers attacked one another with punches, slaps and a glass of water during a debate over the number of legislators needed for a quorum _ and over a lawmaker’s alleged peek at a colleague’s underwear.

Tensions in the legislature are running high as lawmakers debate a bill to govern a presidential election next March. It will be the first time the president will be elected by universal suffrage.

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