The ruling and opposition parties continued to butt heads over the “special Sewol bill” Tuesday with neither side backing down on key issues.
Despite the resumption of negotiations, a quick resolution appears unlikely with the parties clashing over whether to give prosecutorial powers to the inquiry panel.
Although the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy have both promised swift action regarding the sunken ferry, the two have locked horns over the issue, delaying the bill’s processing.
The two parties had initially hoped to pass the bill by July 16. The target has now been pushed back to Thursday, the 100th day since the April 16 ferry disaster that left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Since the outset, the NPAD has claimed that the panel must be given prosecutorial power to reveal the truth about developments that led to the accident.
Although the NPAD has put forward a compromise giving limited investigative powers to a special counsel appointed for the case, it is now renewing its push, prompted by the discovery of Yoo Byung-eun’s body.
“(Could) the absurd administration and prosecution that neglected Yoo Byung-eun’s corpse for 40 days despite finding it right in front of (Yoo’s) hideout be entrusted with (governing) the country?” NAPD floor leader Rep. Park Young-sun said. According to the police, Yoo’s body was found in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, on June 12. The authorities, however, neglected to verify the identity of the body and the police have since admitted to mishandling the issue.
“The Saenuri Party should stop playing for time, and I implore President Park Geun-hye, who holds the key to passing the special bill, to answer.”
The ruling party opposes giving the panel investigative powers, saying that this would undermine the country’s legal system, and that the panel members cannot be held responsible for any mishaps in their investigation.
As the issue dragged on, National Assembly Speaker Rep. Chung Ui-hwa said Tuesday that he would step in if an agreement was not reached within the week.
“(I) plan to consider an alternative if discussing (the issue) with those responsible in the two parties,” Chung said. He said that he would give the two parties until the end of the week to reach an agreement on their own.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)