The minor opposition Unified Progressive Party is becoming increasingly isolated as its former leftist allies are turning their backs over allegations that its leading members plotted an armed revolt.
As the two main parties appear ready to approve the government’s request to allow the arrest of key suspect Rep. Lee Seok-ki within the week, the UPP on Sunday fired back at the National Intelligence Service, claiming that the agency had paid a party member to spy on its activities for an extended period of time.
|The Unified Progressive Party’s Rep. Lee Seok-ki comes out of his office at the National Assembly on Sunday. (Yonhap News)|
The NIS said it has secured a recording of the UPP lawmaker plotting to attack infrastructure.
The main opposition Democratic Party has been distancing itself from the UPP from the outset, and even the UPP’s once-ally Progressive Justice Party floor leader Rep. Sim Sang-jeung called for a “stringent investigation.”
“The public will never approve progressives that stand outside the Constitution. (The issue) must be investigated thoroughly to uncover the truth,” Sim said on Sunday.
“(I) urge the UPP and Lee to comply with the investigation if it is a political party and if he is a member whose existence is based on the Constitution and the law.”
Sim’s PJP broke away from the UPP last year following discord that stemmed from allegations of irregularities in the process of Lee Seok-ki and Rep. Kim Jae-yeon being named proportional representatives of the party.
As even former allies abandon the UPP, the ruling Saenuri Party suggested a “one-point” plenary session to process the request for arresting Lee Seok-ki.
Under the regulations, the authorities require the parliament’s approval to arrest a lawmaker while the parliament is in session.
“The request for arrest should be processed at the least. The request can be put up for review on Sept. 2, and (it can be processed) at the plenary session on Sept. 4 or 5,” Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan told a local news agency on Saturday.
Although the September session of the National Assembly will open on Monday, the Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party have yet to set the schedule due to differences regarding the NIS and its alleged attempt at influencing last year’s presidential election.
The main opposition appears be leaning toward accepting Choi’s suggestion and processing the request.
“If the request for arrest is submitted to the National Assembly, the DP will handle the issue according to the National Assembly Act with the public’s view in mind,” DP spokesman Park Yong-jin said. He added that although the case is independent of the “NIS case,” the party will treat the two issues with the same principles of protecting national interests, democracy and the Constitution.
With the tide turning against them, the UPP continued to fling accusations with Rep. Lee Sang-kyu claiming that a party member from Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, was paid to spy for the NIS.
“We have identified the NIS collaborator. We have found that the NIS paid him off with a large amount of money. The NIS kept the UPP under surveillance through him for a period of a few months to several years,” UPP Rep. Lee Sang-kyu said Sunday.
Lee Sang-kyu, however, declined to elaborate on how the UPP determined that the NIS bought off the informant, saying only that the spy agency should provide the details.
“The real nature of the issue is now clear. The NIS says that the UPP is guilty of plotting a revolt, but the truth is that it is a case of the NIS spying on a political party, and its continued violation of the Constitution.”
The NIS denied the UPP’s claims, saying that all their investigations were conducted legally and that it “will not respond to every single groundless claim.”
As for Lee Seok-ki, he has changed his explanation of the situation, going from accusing the NIS of fabricating “all allegations” to saying that he was at the meeting, but that he was not inciting a revolt and that he was “a pacifist to the bone.”
While the two main parties discuss the issue, the UPP is doing what it can to prevent the session, even attempting to appeal to the DP that has been distancing itself from the minor opposition since the case emerged last week.
“A one-point plenary session is not possible. The parliament must not go along with one-sided claims by the NIS, which is being pressured to reform for interfering with the presidential election,” UPP chairwoman Lee Jung-hee said at a press conference on Sunday.
“(The DP) must not be moved by the NIS, which distorted the inter-Korean summit transcript to say that the NLL was given up. If the ruling and opposition parties agree, then the parliament becomes an accomplice to the NIS.”
The transcript of the 2007 inter-Korean summit between late President Roh Moo-hyun and deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been at the center of the prolonged DP-Saenuri Party dispute that broke out when ruling party lawmakers claimed that Roh conceded the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea to Pyongyang.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com