As the deadlock over the special Sewol bill continued Friday, the prime minister made a public address calling for the swift legislation of outstanding bills in an attempt to put more pressure on the main opposition party.
Although the National Assembly is set to begin the 100-day regular session on Sept. 1, the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy have yet to agree on the session’s proceedings over differences on the Sewol bill.
The bill, designed to address issues surrounding the April 16 ferry accident, has kept the two main parties at odds for months.
The most recent agreement gives the opposition party and victims’ families more say in naming the candidate for the special counsel’s position. The special counsel will lead the independent probe into the ferry accident.
The families, however, demand that the committee in charge of probing related issues should be given investigative powers.
Although the two had reached an agreement on the issue twice, both plans were rejected by the victims’ families.
After the second agreement was rejected, putting NPAD interim chief Rep. Park Young-sun in a difficult position, the opposition party has been calling for a renegotiation through a trilateral group that includes representatives of the families.
The proposal was quickly rejected by the ruling party, prompting the NPAD to halt all parliamentary procedures and to hold rallies to pressure the ruling party.
The Saenuri Party, however, has not budged, only reaffirming that it would not comply with the NPAD’s demands.
“Neither a new agreement nor a compromise plan have been drawn up, and (the party) has no intentions to do so,” Saenuri Party deputy floor leader Rep. Kim Jae-won said.
He also refuted news reports that the ruling party was considering giving the families the right to nominate special counsels as a compromise.
“In the two meetings with families’ representatives, it was made clear that it was impossible to give the committee the power to investigate and indict, as that is unconstitutional.”
The NPAD is also holding its stance, announcing that it would carry on its “extraordinary actions” to reopen negotiations as planned.
Prime Minister Chung Hong-won (Yonhap)
As the parties’ standoff threatens to throw the regular session off course, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won made a public appeal on Friday, three days after a similar address by economy-related ministers made a public address.
“Many bills including economic stimulus and Sewol bills that must be processed quickly for the people are floating in the National Assembly,” Chung said.
“With each day that passes without normalization of the National Assembly, the sorrows of the people deepen.”
The government’s economic plans, however, are likely to meet strong resistance even if parliamentary operations are normalized.
The NPAD categorized 11 bills as “fake livelihood bills,” and declared that the party will resist their legislation.
The term “livelihood bill” refers to those directly concerned with economic aspects of ordinary citizens’ lives.
“Cheong Wa Dae, the government and the ruling party are pushing fake livelihood bills, many of which are deregulation bills in disguise,” NPAD policy chief Rep. Woo Yoon-keun said Friday.
“(The party) is prepared to seriously discuss and negotiate real livelihood bills, but fake livelihood bills will be resolutely resisted.”
In total, 11 economic stimulus bills, including three aimed at boosting the real estate market and four concerning the deregulation of medical services, have been branded “fake” by the NPAD.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org