Assembly session to begin amid standoff over Sewol

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 31, 2014 - 21:32
  • Updated : Aug 31, 2014 - 21:57
The National Assembly is set to begin its 100-day regular session on Sept. 1 to deliberate the passage of bills that have been piling up for months and to strengthen monitoring of the government. But concerns are growing over whether the parliament can carry out its legislative duty amid a serious political impasse over the special Sewol bill.

The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy have been locking horns for months over the bill designed to address issues surrounding the April 16 ferry accident. Extraordinary sessions were held in July and August, but not a single bill was passed amid the worsening political standoff over the Sewol issues. 
The National Assembly will open its 100-day regular session on Monday. (Yonhap)

The two sides reached agreements twice over the bill. But the NPAD quickly backtracked and demanded a renegotiation as the plans were turned down by the victims’ families.

The most recent agreement gives the opposition party and victims’ families a bigger say in naming the candidate for the special counsel’s position. But victims’ families continued to demand full investigative power in the independent probe into the ferry accident, and pushed President Park Geun-hye to act on the issue.

For weeks, Park maintained her silence on the issue while the opposition party and the victims’ families launched rallies in Gwanghwamun, near her office, Cheong Wa Dae.

The presidential office maintained its stance that the Sewol bill issue belonged to the parliament and should be handled by the two parties.

The government-proposed bills on economic reform and reorganization plans are designed to give a boost to her administration, but Park’s bill has been pending in the National Assembly with the opposition party blocking the legislation. The NPAD said it would not cooperate with the ruling party on the passage of the bills until the ruling party accepts its demands over the Sewol bill.

With Park keeping her silence, the ruling Saenuri Party has been bearing the political burden to resolve the Sewol issue. The party’s floor leader Rep. Lee Wan-koo plans to meet the victims’ families this week. But it remains unclear whether the governing party will find middle ground as the two previous meetings broke down.

The Saenuri Party has repeatedly rejected the NPAD’s demand over the Sewol bill. But it also faces pressure to break the political deadlock before the nation celebrates its annual Chuseok holiday next week.

By Cho Chung-un (