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Sewol bill controversy to throw Assembly session into disarray

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Published : 2014-08-28 20:55
Updated : 2014-08-28 21:06

The two main parties remained deadlocked over the “special Sewol bill” Thursday, with no plans laid out for the National Assembly’s regular session that begins Sept. 1.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy once again took to the streets as part of its “extraordinary action.”

“The emergency actions will be carried out as planned until Saturday. The NPAD’s position is that the issue must be resolved before the regular National Assembly session,” NPAD chief Rep. Park Young-sun said Thursday.

“The Saenuri Party must respond proactively, as the issue cannot be resolved by putting on a show of meeting with the families.”

Since Tuesday, the NPAD has been conducting a campaign to pressure the ruling Saenuri Party back to the negotiating table and to accept its proposal to include relatives of those who died in the April 16 ferry disaster in the negotiations.

Although the NPAD found middle ground with the ruling Saenuri Party on the bill twice, both drafts were rejected by the families, who demanded investigative powers be given to the ad hoc committee in charge of the probe. 
Kim Young-oh, whose daughter died on the Sewol ferry on April 16 and who recently ended his 46-day hunger strike, receives treatment at a Seoul hospital on Thursday. (Yonhap)

As part of the measures, the NPAD is staging a sit-in and continuous general meetings in conference rooms for standing committees to halt parliamentary procedures. In addition, the NPAD’s interim chief is spearheading street campaigns to rally support to the party’s cause.

Meanwhile, Kim Young-oh, the father of a student who died on the ferry, has ended his 46-day hunger strike.

For the two main parties, however, Kim’s decision appears to have only been another opportunity to repeat their demands.

The main opposition said that the development should be an opportunity to reopen talks on the bill, pressuring the Saenuri Party to accept its proposals.

The ruling party also capitalized on the development to further its demands, calling on the NPAD to end its campaign.

“The Saenuri Party will continue to talk with the families, and make more efforts to find clues to achieve a resolution,” Saenuri Party spokeswoman Rep. Kwon Eun-hee said.

“The NPAD should also end its struggles and return to the National Assembly to process bills on people’s livelihoods.”

The ruling party also took partial credit for Kim’s decision to end his dangerously long hunger strike, saying that its meetings with the families were likely to have affected his decision.

Despite the claims, made by floor spokesman Rep. Yoon Young-seok, Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Lee Wan-koo is reported to have achieved little in the meetings, other than confirming the differences between the views of the party and the families.

Lee will again meet with the families on Sept. 1.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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