The 100-day regular parliamentary session kicked off Monday as the ruling and main opposition parties remained in firm deadlock over the so-called special Sewol bill.
The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy held a plenary session following the opening ceremony, but the outlook for the 100-day session remains bleak with the parties remaining divided over the Sewol bill.
The plenary session served only to put the request for the arrest of Saenuri Party’s Rep. Song Kwang-ho to the assembly’s consideration.
The arrest request for Song, who is alleged to have received bribes from a rail track component manufacturer, will be put to a vote at the plenary session scheduled for Wednesday.
Along with the matter of Song’s arrest, the appointments of National Assembly secretary-general candidate Park Hyung-jun and Supreme Court justice nominee Kwon Soon-il will also be put to a vote on Wednesday.
The Sewol bill was designed to address issues surrounding the April 16 ferry accident that left more than 300 people dead or missing. The families of the victims demand that the committee charged with probing related issues be given powers to investigate Assembly session opens amid Sewol deadlock and indict responsible individuals.
The ruling party has refused the demands, prompting the NPAD to suggest the formation of a trilateral negotiation group that includes representatives of the victims’ families.
With the issue holding back parliamentary procedures, the National Assembly speaker appealed for families’ understanding.
“It is the time to end the conflict over the special Sewol bill,” National Assembly speaker Rep. Chung Ui-hwa said at the opening ceremony.
“(The issue) can be resolved if the families could be a little bit more understanding of the limitations of politics, which cannot provide 100 percent satisfaction.”
Both the ruling party and the NPAD also called for a swift resolution of the issue.
“The Sewol bill and livelihood bills should be processed separately,” Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung said at the party’s general meeting, calling for the NPAD’s cooperation. The term “livelihood bills” is used in local politics to refer to economic bills concerning ordinary citizens.
NPAD interim leader Rep. Park Young-sun also highlighted the need for the Sewol bill.
The NPAD, however, also announced that it WOULD continue to campaign in and outside the parliament for its demands regarding the bill to be met. The main opposition has been holding street campaigns and emergency meetings in the parliament since late August to reopen negotiations over the Sewol bill.
“Overall, the direction of the party’s extraordinary actions remains unchanged,” NPAD floor spokesman Rep. Park Beom-kye said.
He added that NPAD lawmakers will begin a tour of the country aimed at improving safety issues on Tuesday.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)