It's for the show, says AP. But still, Taiwanese have more gusto than Japanese, throwing punches, throwing water bottles...
From ABC News quoting AP (8/2/2013; emphasis is mine):
Taiwan Lawmakers Brawl Over Nuclear Plant Bill
Taiwanese lawmakers exchanged punches and threw water at each other Friday ahead of an expected vote that would authorize a referendum on whether to finish a fourth nuclear power plant on this densely populated island of 23 million people.
Nuclear power has long been a contentious issue in Taiwan and became more so following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. While many Taiwanese consider nuclear power generation an unacceptable safety risk for the earthquake-prone island, economic analyses suggest disruptive power shortages are inevitable if the fourth plant is not completed.
Friday's fracas pitted the pro-referendum forces of President Ma Ying-jeou's ruling Nationalist Party against strongly anti-nuclear forces affiliated with the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party. DPP lawmakers occupied the legislative podium late Thursday night amid vows to disrupt the vote. It had not taken place by midday Friday, but with a large Nationalist majority in the 113-seat legislature, the referendum bill is expected to pass easily.
Construction of Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant began in 1997 but was halted while the DPP was in power between 2000 and 2008. If the referendum is passed it could become operational by 2016.
Physical confrontations broke out early in Friday's session. Associated Press television footage shows some eight people pushing and shoving in one scrum. Two people scuffled on the floor, while others tried to separate them. More than a dozen activists in bright yellow shirts chanted and waved signs on a nearby balcony, and several of them splashed water onto lawmakers below. A few water bottles were thrown into the fray.
Some DPP lawmakers object to the idea of any nuclear referendum at all, while others say that the language in the bill needs to be changed because it is prejudicial. According to the bill under discussion, referendum voters would be asked to vote on whether they agree with the proposition that "the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant should be halted and that it not become operational."
Taiwan began transitioning away from a one-party martial law regime in 1987 and is regarded today as one of Asia's most vibrant democracies. But its political process has been undermined by occasional outbursts of violence in the legislature, much of which appears to be deliberately designed to score points among hardline supporters on either side of the island's longstanding political divide.
It is not very clear in the article, but Taiwan's ruling party is pro-nuclear, pushing for this referendum.
For more on growing anti-nuclear movement in Taiwan, here's from Energy Tribune (3/13/2013; emphasis is mine):
Anti-Nuclear Storm Brewing in Taiwan
By Tim Daiss
There is a storm brewing in Taiwan. But this time it’s not a killer typhoon blowing in from the South China Sea or even an earthquake, which often plagues this island country. It’s the fight over the future of nuclear power.
In one corner are environmentalists, academics, an alarmed populace and even Taiwanese celebrities. In the other corner are politicians, government planners and Taipower, the country’s state-owned power utility.
In fact, public outcry against the county’s proposed fourth nuclear plant has reached a fever pitch, prompting a referendum to be held later this year. At stake is a new nuclear plant already about 90 percent completed in New Taipei City. The plant is scheduled to come online by 2015.
...Taiwan’s geographical location, which sits on the boundary between two converging tectonic plates, is indeed cause for concern. Additionally, the country is in the proximity of a volcano group. Opponents also cite the fact that Taiwan’s three existing plants are all located in one area, New Taipei City, which makes it even more vulnerable to natural disaster that could lead to a series of chain reactions.
The country’s anti-nuclear faction also points to nuclear waste as another problem, since nuclear waste has to be buried between 610m and 1,200m underground in a geologically stable area for a period of 10,000 years and up, they claim, citing a Taiwanese government paper. Critics claim that an adequate burial site cannot be found in Taiwan.
...However, the pro-nuclear camp has friends in high places, including current Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. Ma repeatedly defends his government’s nuclear stance and promises, even guarantees nuclear safety before allowing commercial operation of the new plant.
Though pro-nuclear, Ma seems to be taking a pragmatic approach to the problem. “We can reduce nuclear power gradually, but it will be hard to achieve this goal in a single step,” he said at a March 2 meeting with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members that call for a halt to construction of the fourth plant.
Ma added that the government would respect any decision made by the public on this issue in the upcoming national referendum, which itself has become a political bloodbath as both sides try to work referendum details to suit their own agendas.
(Full article at the link)