Expectations had mounted on how the president would react to calls for her to intervene in the passage of the special Sewol bill. But Park maintained her silence on the issue.
Her reticence was widely seen as Cheong Wa Dae keeping to its previous stance that the Sewol bill issue was a parliamentary issue that should be handled by the two main parties.
Instead of mentioning the Sewol bill, Park indirectly blamed the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy for failing to pass other contentious bills that are unconnected to the Sewol bill.
|President Park Geun-hye presides over a meeting with senior secretaries at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
“I request the National Assembly to process the key bills designed to revitalize the economy, to strengthen the safety of the people, and to stabilize the people’s, livelihoods within this August’s extraordinary session,” Park said while presiding over a weekly meeting with senior secretaries at Cheong Wa Dae.
The government-proposed bills on economic reform and reorganization plans, have remained pending in the National Assembly for months, as the two main parties locked horns over the Sewol bill aimed at uncovering the truth behind April’s deadly ferry sinking.
The parties reached an agreement last week. But as the victims’ families rejected the agreement, the NPAD has been demanding the ruling Saenuri Party accept another option: To resolve the political impasse through a three-way consultative body with the victims’ families.
The ruling party, however, has rejected the proposal, saying it a challenges representative democracy.
Stressing the role of the parliament in legislating bills to improve people’s lives, Park said the National Assembly is forgoing an opportunity to revitalize the economy due to the ongoing political deadlock.
“The National Assembly holds a heavy responsibility delegated from the people and the parliamentary democracy should be directed to the people, (not pursuing the interests of) an individual and a party.”
The president also urged government officials to work harder to eradicate unnecessary business regulations to help the country attract foreign investment and boost domestic consumption.
Park said she will hold a second meeting to seek ways to increase deregulation soon. The president has been pushing for regulatory reform as part of efforts to spur corporate investment.
Meanwhile, Park marks 18 months in office Tuesday. The president is already one-third of the way into her term but observers say little seems to have been achieved due to a series of unfavorable factors: the election meddling scandal, nomination debacles and the ferry disaster.
Amid growing tension over the Sewol bill, the president’s approval ratings rallied to 51.8 percent last week, according to Realmeter, a local pollster.
Park’s job ratings hit a low of 45.2 percent in the fifth week of July and had been showing signs of improvement, thanks to her party’s landslide victory in recent by-elections. But the pollster said the rate at which they were improving slowed last week.
Some commentators say the slowing improvement in the president’s ratings appears to be connected to the continued political deadlock over the Sewol bill.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)