Opposition party takes issue with ‘divisive’ bills

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Sept 3, 2014 - 21:23
  • Updated : Sept 3, 2014 - 21:23
The main opposition’s interim leader on Wednesday pointed her finger at ruling party lawmakers for sponsoring a range of divisive bills under “the pretense of raising living standards.”

Rep. Park Young-sun, interim leader of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, made the comment as the ruling Saenuri Party continued to blame the NPAD for the current political deadlock over the “special Sewol bill.”

“The Saenuri Party and President Park Geun-hye are claiming the opposition is blocking the legislation of key bills designed to kick the economy back to life,” Rep. Park said. “This is an outright lie and an attempt to manipulate public opinion.”

Saenuri Party lawmakers have been supporting bills proposing to increase casino usage, widen mortgage loans and legalize for-profit hospitals. Ruling party lawmakers say the bills will revitalize the economy and raise living standards. Opposition lawmakers have been opposing the bills, saying they would deepen income inequality and aggravate social problems such as gambling addiction.

The Saenuri-sponsored bills are sitting in the National Assembly after the NPAD last month began a partial boycott of legislative activities to protest the Saenuri Party’s stance on the special Sewol bill. The NPAD is rejecting any vote on the bills until the Saenuri Party yields on a major issue related to the Sewol bill.

The bill aims to set up a probe into the government over the botched rescue efforts on the day the Sewol ferry sank in April. Victims’ families are demanding lawmakers grant prosecutorial authorities to investigators. Saenuri lawmakers have opposed the request.

Rep. Park suggested prioritizing the special Sewol bill along with bills aiming to minimize youth unemployment and widen public pension accessibility, among others.

“I trust that our people will be able to see through the Saenuri Party’s drive,” she said. “The Saenuri Party’s bills are those that pretend to be able to better our livelihoods.”

Park’s comments also appeared to address falling party approval ratings.

According to a poll conducted in late August by Gallup Korea, the Saenuri Party held a 44 percent approval rating while the NPAD held 21 percent. A faction within the NPAD has cited the party’s policy on the Sewol bill as a reason for the decline in public support.

The rating is in fact the lowest ever for the NPAD since its founding in March, when the former main opposition Democratic Party merged with a faction led by Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo.

By Jeong Hunny (