The parliamentary interpellation session kicked off Thursday with the ruling and opposition parties clashing over key issues in the June 4 local elections.
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy honed in on the candidate nomination system for local elections, and again urged President Park Geun-hye to follow through on the issue. Although Park had pledged to abolish the system as part of her political reform measures, the ruling party has since moved in the opposite direction, saying that abolishing candidate nominations may be unconstitutional.
“Who decided to backtrack on abolishing the nomination system?” the NPAD’s Rep. You Sung-yop said, grilling Prime Minister Chung Hong-won on the issue. You was referring to the ruling party’s decision to forgo candidate nominations in the April by-elections but to reintroduce them for the local elections.
“The president, who is a symbol of principles and trust, should request that the Saenuri Party uphold the pledge, and if the party refuses she should leave the party.”
You went on to press Chung, asking whether he would advise the president to request that the system be abolished or else leave the ruling party.
Rep. Song Ho-chang, one of NPAD co-chairman Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo’s closest associates, backed up his party’s demands by pointing out the negative aspects of the system and referring to it as “modern day slavery.”
Under the candidate nomination system, a political party’s leaders exert nearly absolute influence on the selection process.
Citing current and past examples of bribery and figures close to the president interfering in the candidate selection process, Song said that parliamentarians’ power over the nominations was the fundamental cause of candidacy-related corruption.
Along with the candidate nomination system, developments surrounding Yoo Woo-seong proved a key issue in Thursday’s session.
The NPAD pressed its demands for a thorough investigation, the scope of which would include National Intelligence Service chief Nam Jae-joon.
Rep. Park Beom-kye of the main opposition raised doubts about the results of the prosecution’s investigation, saying that the highest level of the spy agency should be probed. Yoo is a former Seoul City official of North Korean-Chinese decent accused of spying for Pyongyang. In appealing a lower court’s acquittal of Yoo, the prosecution used forged Chinese government documents provided by the NIS.
Ruling party lawmakers, in contrast, focused on the charges faced by Yoo.
“The primary issue is determining whether Yoo is a spy, and the investigation into evidence forgery comes next,” Saenuri Party’s Rep. Kim Do-eup said.
Kim also claimed that a large number of ethnic Chinese living in North Korea operate as middlemen in transferring money into the North and gathering information for Pyongyang’s authorities.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)