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Cheong Wa Dae protests decree amendment bill

Cheong Wa Dae on Friday strongly protested the National Assembly’s passage of a bill giving lawmakers the right to demand an amendment to a government decree, saying that it may violate the Constitution.

According to the revised bill, lawmakers are authorized to “demand” changes to a decree issued by the executive branch. The bill was endorsed early Friday in line with an ongoing debate over the government enforcement decree of the special Sewol bill that dictates the government’s investigation into the Sewol ferry sinking in April 2014.

Cheong Wa Dae expressed objections to the bill, saying that the revision would violate the constitutional separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judiciary branches.

“(The bill) would paralyze the executive branch’s work,” said Kim Sung-woo, senior presidential secretary of public affairs. “The revised bill allows the legislature to control the government’s enforcement decree, which resides in the executive branch’s own authority,” said Kim.

The revision has been a sticking point during last-minute negotiations between the rival parties as the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy held up endorsements of other bills, including the civil pension reform, unless the ruling Saenuri Party agreed to the fortified legislative control of the government decrees.

The decree on the Sewol probe announced on May 11, allows the government to name key members of the probe panel to investigate the cause of the Sewol sinking. The opposition and some families of the Sewol victims have claimed that the decree would enable the government to meddle in the investigation by placing public officials in the probe’s executive positions.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers downplayed the government’s concerns.

“I can’t grasp exactly which part (of the amendment) would violate the separation of powers,” said Yoo Seung-min, the floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, on Friday.

NPAD floor leader Lee Jong-kul hailed the revision, saying that it will be a “prime opportunity” to bring back the balance of power between the executive and the legislature.

Yoon Pyeong-joong, a professor at Hanshin University said that the government’s concern about separation of powers was “not convincing,” because it has exercised more power than other branches under Korea’s long-held presidential system.

By Yeo Jun-suk (
Korea Herald daum