The ruling Saenuri Party unilaterally convened a sub-parliamentary committee meeting and submitted an anti-nuclear terrorism bill on Wednesday, pressuring the main opposition Democratic Party to stop its boycot and ratify the pending bill.
The committee of Science, ICT, Future Planning, Broadcasting and Communications was held in the afternoon with only its five Saenuri members attending. DP committee members refused to attend the meeting, saying they would not support Saenuri’s attempt to ratify the nuke bill without reaching a compromise on other pending bills including a revision to the law on broadcasting. Without the DP’s consent, the subcommittee cannot pass the bill.
The move came hours after Saenuri intensified its attacks against the DP, saying that the bill was being held as a “political hostage” by the opposition lawmakers and was being used as a bargaining chip to attain their demands for passing other bills pending from the National Assembly’s science and communication committee.
“The opposition party is taking the anti-nuclear terrorism bill hostage in order to pass another bill on the broadcasting act, which it favors,” said Saenuri Rep. Choung Byoung-gug.
“(The DP) must be aware that … being politically calculating and going against the national interest is (a part of) the old politics that the people hate,” he added.
The government and the ruling party have been urging the DP to ratify the bill aimed at protecting nuclear facilities and preventing nuclear terrorism, before President Park Geun-hye leaves for the Nuclear Security Summit to be held later this month.
Korea, which was the host of the second nuclear security summit in 2012, vowed to ratify the bill before the third round of the event takes place in the Netherlands.
The pending bill has made the government and the ruling party nervous that the president will leave for the summit without having the bill ratified at the parliament. President Park on Tuesday expressed regret that the National Assembly had delayed the ratification of the bill, saying it would frustrate the country’s efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism and hurt the international community’s confidence in Korea. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won also met Assembly Speaker Kang Chang-hee on Wednesday to request that the parliament pass the pending bill.
“(The DP) must not put the party’s interests first in matters (aimed at) upgrading the status of Korea, which served as a chair country of the nuclear security summit,” Saenuri’s floor leader Choi Kyung-hwan said.
The DP countered the attack, saying Saenuri and the government are responsible for the delay of the bill.
“We need an explanation for Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling party making an abrupt demand to pass the bill after spending two years doing nothing,” said the DP’s supreme council member Shin Kyung-min.
Stressing that the bill was first introduced to the parliament in August 2012, the DP excoriated the ruling party for shifting responsibility over the delay of the bill.
“The bill was not on the list of bills to be submitted by the government in January and there was no request (from the government) to cooperate (for the passage of the bill) during the February extraordinary session,” DP chairman Kim Han-gil said during the party’s supreme council meeting.
“(The government and the ruling party) laying the blame on the opposition party is an act that distorts the facts,” he said.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)