Parties dig in heels over Sewol bill, throw Assembly off course

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 25, 2014 - 21:28
  • Updated : Aug 25, 2014 - 21:36
Deadlocked over the special bill concerning the Sewol ferry disaster, the two main political parties are once again on course to derail the schedule for parliamentary operations.

On Sunday, main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy interim chief Rep. Park Young-sun called for including families of those who died in the April 16 ferry disaster in resolving the deadlock over the Sewol bill. The ruling Saenuri Party, however, rejected the suggestion, saying that forming a trilateral negotiation group would undermine the principles representative democracy.

As the deadlock continues, the parliamentary audit of state organizations appears unlikely to begin on schedule. The parties had agreed to hold the audit in two separate sessions for the first time this year. The first of the two sessions was scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Under a second compromise agreement reached on Aug. 19 the opposition party and victims’ families would have had more say in drawing up the list of candidates to lead the special counsel investigation than the ruling party. 

The families and opposition parties had initially pushed to give the committee in charge of the issue investigative rights.

Although the two main parties had made compromises on two occasions, both drafts drawn up by the parties were rejected by the families.

With Sewol victims’ families, whom the NPAD claims to represent, calling for a renegotiation, the NPAD also convened a general meeting of lawmakers Monday.

“If the suggestion for a three-way negotiation group is rejected, (the NPAD) will fight to the end,” NPAD floor spokesman Rep. Park Beom-kye said after the morning session of the meeting.

Earlier in the day, Park Young-sun defended her suggestion, saying that it was the only way to overcome the people’s distrust of the establishment.

“The suggestion was made because the families cannot trust the government and the Saenuri Party. (The NPAD) will wait until today,” Park Young-sun said on Monday. 
President Park Geun-hye presides over a meeting with senior secretaries at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Accusing the ruling party of failing to “treat the families with sincerity,” Park called on the Saenuri Party to accept her demands, indicating that the NPAD will otherwise adopt stronger measures to pressure the ruling party.

“If the Saenuri Party does not answer (positively) to forming a three-way negotiation group, then there appears to be no other way.”

The ruling party, however, again rejected the proposal. Its chief negotiator, floor leader Rep. Lee Wan-koo, reiterated that the NPAD’s plans would shake the fundamentals of representative democracy.

“Meeting with the families is always possible, but the families cannot be an agent in the legislation process,” Saenuri Party floor spokeswoman Rep. Kim Hyun-sook said. She added that the NPAD’s suggestion goes beyond the Constitution and is something to which the Saenuri Party can never agree.

“If the NPAD’s floor leader lacks responsibility and authority, all future agreements reached with the Saenuri Party have no meaning.”

By Choi He-suk (