Opposition leader Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo on Wednesday urged the government and the ruling party to keep presidential election pledges, and called for the administration to repair relations with Pyongyang. Ahn also called on President Park Geun-hye to respond to his suggestion of holding a meeting to discuss the candidate nomination system for local elections.
In his first address to the National Assembly, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy co-chairman focused on President Park Geun-hye’s main pledges ― economic democratization, reducing the privilege of public office and social unity ― and their allegedly being ignored.
“If (the pledges) were truthful, the scrapping of these three achievable pledges goes beyond causing disappointment to generating sadness,” Ahn said.
|New Politics Alliance for Democracy co-chairman Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo addresses the National Assembly on Wednesday. (Lee Gil-dong/The Korea Herald)|
Refuting ruling Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan’s claim that the opposition was trapping the government with political disputes, Ahn called on the ruling party to propose plans for realizing the pledges.
Honing in on the candidate nomination system, Ahn said that the issue needs to be resolved by Park.
“Why does the ruling party’s floor leader apologize for a presidential election pledge being scrapped? Is it loyalty? Is it an act of arrogance?” Ahn said, referring to Choi’s speech from Tuesday in which he apologized for the Saenuri Party’s decision regarding the issue.
Although Park pledged to abolish the system giving party leaders the power to nominate candidates for local elections, the ruling party has since backtracked, saying that the measure may be unconstitutional.
The Saenuri Party’s actions sparked off yet another ruling-opposition party feud, sending opposition lawmakers to stage a series of protests.
As for the direction the party will take, Ahn said that the NPAD will concentrate on “people’s livelihood, security and rational reform.”
As part of the party’s plans for realizing these goals, Ahn proposed the formation of a ruling-opposition party committee for improving people’s livelihoods, and a “national grand unity council” consisting of politicians, government and industry officials,
The ruling party, for its part, disputed Ahn’s speech point by point, saying that the first-term lawmaker was off-track, and claiming that economic democratization and other pledges are being fulfilled.
The ruling party’s criticism of Ahn’s speech, however, began even before it was over.
As Ahn singled out the candidate nomination system for local elections, Saenuri Party’s Choi Kyung-hwan shouted out a comment that roughly translates to “speak for yourself,” riling the opposition parties.
The comment prompted the NPAD to issue a statement calling for an immediate apology, while the minor opposition Justice Party went a step further, demanding that Choi step down as the ruling party’s floor leader.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com