Published : 2013-08-28 20:05
Updated : 2013-08-28 20:05
The ongoing partisan standoff over the alleged meddling of the National Intelligence Service in the December presidential election is likely to continue into September, disrupting the imminent regular session of the National Assembly.
Under the law, the Assembly is required to start its 100-day regular session on Sept. 1. But a parliamentary paralysis appears to be inevitable as the rival camps are unable to find common ground on handling the thorny issue.
Political gridlock deepened after President Park Geun-hye made it clear Monday that she had no intention of accommodating the demands of the main opposition Democratic Party.
The opposition party demands that Park bring to light the truth about the allegations that the spy agency staged an online smear campaign against the DP presidential candidate.
It also demands that Park apologize for the whole affair and hold a one-on-one meeting with DP leader Kim Han-gil to discuss NIS reform.
Park flatly rejected all these demands. Denying any prior knowledge of the agency’s alleged illegal activity, Park stressed she had not benefited from it at all.
Park also reaffirmed her resolve to reshape the NIS, saying reform efforts have already started to keep the agency focused on its proper missions. Her message was that the opposition party should not question her commitment to NIS reform.
Turning down Kim’s call for a tete-a-tete, Park renewed her offer for a five-way meeting, which would include the heads and floor leaders of both the opposition party and the ruling Saenuri Party.
Park avoids an exclusive meeting with the DP leader because she fears it will be dominated by the NIS issue. She insists on a meeting where the floor leaders participate because she needs their cooperation in pushing reform bills through the National Assembly.
In response to Park’s offer, DP leader Kim made a counterproposal. He suggested that Park meet with him first to discuss the NIS allegations and then hold a broader meeting to discuss bills related with people’s livelihoods.
Kim gave Park until Sept. 4 to respond to his proposal, but there is little chance of Park accepting it.
In fact, Kim himself did not put much hope on it. While making the counteroffer, he braced himself and his party for a prolonged extraparliamentary struggle. The party is moving to ratchet up the intensity of its outdoor protest rallies and hold large-scale candlelight vigils with civic groups.
The looming prospect of the National Assembly remaining idle even after the regular session has opened is cause for concern as many reform bills aimed at revitalizing the economy are waiting for parliamentary approval.
Should the fragile recovery process be derailed by the political impasse, both the ruling and opposition camps would be held responsible.
Park urges the opposition party to stop futile political one-upmanship and focus on issues related to people’s well-being. Yet it is her intransigence that is keeping the party away from the National Assembly.
We do not question Park’s integrity when she claims she had no prior knowledge of the NIS’ alleged wrongdoing. But this does not necessarily mean that she can ignore the opposition party’s demands that the truth be established.
DP leader Kim said previously that he would meet with Park regardless of the dialogue format. He should stick to his word.