Island Fury

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Thousands of Taiwanese protested outside the country’s parliament Tuesday against a new bill by opposition parties that would give the legislature extraordinary powers to question anyone, a move that would make it difficult for newly-elected President Lai Ching-te to govern, the Guardian reported.

The draft law would require the president and lawmakers to answer questions and provide a range of documents when asked by parliament. Those who don’t comply could be punished with fines and jail time under the vaguely defined “contempt of congress.”

The opposition parties the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) proposed the bill, which many critics say is being rushed through the legislature without proper review, Bloomberg noted.

Meanwhile, some demonstrators and analysts warned that the bill was potentially unconstitutional and disregarded Taiwan’s democratic process.

Last week, scuffles broke out in parliament after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) tried to stop the opposition from pushing through the draft law.

Tuesday’s protests came a day after Lai took office: The DPP leader won 40 percent of the vote in a three-party race for the presidency in January, but his party lost its majority in parliament.

Analysts said if the bill passes, it will be difficult for Lai to govern. The new president will also have to handle a strained relationship with China, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory

In his inauguration address, Lai called for China to stop its military intimidation and engage in talks on issues such as resuming tourism.

China criticized Lai’s remarks as signaling a push for independence and imposed sanctions on three US defense contractors for arms sales to Taiwan. Beijing prefers to negotiate with the KMT and has been courting key figures in the party, including hosting former President Ma Ying-jeou and current lawmakers.

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