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Growing public frustration over Taiwan's political brawls

More and more Taiwanese are growing weary of the island's political wrangling between the ruling and opposition parties that has stalled the island's major economic policies.

TAIPEI: More and more Taiwanese are growing weary of the island's political wrangling between the ruling and opposition parties. Public discontent has been further fuelled by the recent resignation of Economic Minister Chang Chia-juch, which came after the opposition party hurled insults over the Kaohsiung gas explosions.

Public dissatisfaction has been mounting over frustration with an inefficient and deeply divided legislature that has stalled the island's major economic policies. Many feel that lawmakers often attack other people just because they have a different political stance. 

Standoffs between the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have led to parliament brawls and kept major policies like Taiwan's service trade agreement with China stuck in the legislature for more than a year.

It is starting to drain the patience of the Taiwanese people. A poll by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research showed that more than 60 per cent of Taiwanese are unhappy with lawmakers regardless of their political party.

"Sometimes it's just acting. We often see KMT and DPP lawmakers fighting in parliament on camera, but behind the scene, they are actually good friends. Sometimes, it's all about getting media attention," said political science professor Fan Shih-ping from National Taiwan Normal University.

The KMT now holds the majority seats in parliament, but the opposition has used filibusters such as occupying the podium of the legislative chamber to stop bills from being approved. But some analysts say President Ma Ying-jeou has to shoulder some blame.

"The KMT will remain divided as long as President Ma Ying-jeou does not repair his relationship with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng. The KMT may have more seats in parliament than the DPP, but if some KMT members vote against their own party, it makes the DPP the majority," said Prof Fan.

"The public still has doubts about some policies like the service trade agreement. About 50 per cent of Taiwanese oppose the accord. Without the majority support, the KMT lawmakers have to act with caution," said political science professor Tung Chen-yuan from National Chengchi University.

President Ma Ying-jeou is calling for an end to the political infighting between the two parties. He warns that the persistent deadlock in parliament is putting the island's economic future at jeopardy, and that if nothing is done soon, all in Taiwan will have to pay the painful price of a slowdown in economic development. 

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