Published : 2013-09-27 21:32
Updated : 2013-09-27 21:32
The gloves came off between the rival parties Friday in a tussle over President Park Geun-hye’s curtailed pension plan described by the ruling camp as an inevitable compromise but criticized by the opposition as deceiving.
The main opposition Democratic Party vowed to go all-out to block Park’s plan from passing the parliamentary process, riding on the wave of negative public sentiment over the potentially augmented pension burden on the younger generation.
The political debate over the tax increase is also likely to escalate upon spreading awareness that it will inevitably be required to fund the expensive welfare pledges.
The DP has argued that an increase in corporate tax and tax for the rich is inevitable in order to secure revenue for the pledges. Amid growing public disapproval toward Park’s trimmed-down plan, voices within the Saenuri Party are also gaining traction for a need to raise the taxes.
The parties, meanwhile, agreed on the schedule for the National Assembly’s regular session, which had been idling for nearly a month due to political strife.
The plenary session for last year’s settlement of accounts will be held on Nov. 8, while the questioning of the government will be held Nov. 11-15. A special questioning session for imminent issues will be held on Oct. 1, to be followed by a government audit from Oct. 14 to Nov. 2.
The parties are expected to butt heads over most of the pending issues, namely the government’s plan to submit a relevant revision bill for the new basic pension plan by the end of this year for the measure to take effect next July.
“President Park must stand before the people and seek forgiveness,” said Rep. Rhee Mok-hee, the DP’s representative to the parliamentary Health and Welfare Committee. He added that more precise estimations of cost and method should have taken place.
The Saenuri Party defended Park’s new pension plan and denounced the DP for politicizing.
“Adjustment was inevitable in order to secure financial sustainability and guarantee stable public pension for future generations,” said Rep. Yoo Jae-jung, the Saenuri Party’s representative to the welfare committee.
DP chairman Kim Han-gil, meanwhile, took the fight against Park to international attention by arranging a luncheon with the foreign press here and asserting that the democracy of Korea has taken a step backward with the two conservative administrations of Park and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak.
Kim cited the National Intelligence Service’s alleged election interference, the agency’s involvement in the West Sea border dispute, the government’s authorization of a right-leaning history textbook, and the alleged illegal surveillance of a prosecutor general as examples of the government damaging democracy.
“One thing is clear: that the only forces that can fight against the Park administration’s intelligence-led reign of terror is the DP,” Kim said, adding the party will step up its outdoor protest.