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Parties gear up for showdown over P.M. nominee, Assembly bill

Rival parties continued their standoff over the pending confirmation of Prime Minister-designate Hwang Kyo-ahn and the controversial amendment enabling lawmakers to demand changes to government ordinances.

The ruling Saenuri Party said it would consider unilaterally pushing to approve Hwang to “normalize the governance,” as the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy continued to object to the nominee as “unfit” for the job.

On Friday, the Saenuri Party unilaterally adopted a parliamentary report on Hwang after three days of confirmation hearings overshadowed by the nation’s fight against Middle East respiratory syndrome. The NPAD boycotted Friday’s adoption of Hwang’s parliamentary report, leaving the meeting in protest just before the panel adopted the report by a vote of seven to six. The adoption allows the National Assembly to put the confirmation to a vote in a plenary session.

“(The unilateral adoption) was an inevitable decision,” said Saenuri Party floor spokesperson Rep. Min Hyun-joo on Saturday in a statement. “We need to build a robust governance system to address the public fear over the MERS outbreak,” said Min. 

Min urged the NPAD to attend the Assembly’s plenary session next week and put Hwang’s confirmation to a vote. Saenuri Party can push through the confirmation as they hold a majority with 160 out of 298 parliamentary seats.

The NPAD, however, has repeated its objection to Hwang and continued to dismiss him as “unfit” for the nation’s second-in-command.

“Saenuri abandons its right and duty as lawmakers,” said NPAD vice floor spokesperson Rep. Kim Jung-hyun. “Saenuri has compromised the role of the National Assembly by adopting the report. If they continue to do this, they would end up being a rubber stamp to support Cheong Wa Dae’s decisions,” said Kim.

The NPAD also said Sunday that it would amend a parliamentary law to mandate high-profile candidates like Hwang submit relevant information for their confirmation hearing. The NPAD criticized Hwang for being “insincere” in response to its request for information, failing to prove Hwang’s qualification for the post.

Meanwhile, the NPAD on Sunday urged President Park Geun-hye to withdraw her threat to veto the revised parliamentary law that allows lawmakers to demand the government make changes in decrees.

As the rival parties continued to clash over the bill, Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa offered mediation by changing contentious language in the bill.

Chung suggested watering down the language to prevent any further debate of it potentially violating the Constitution, such as by stating that the Assembly can “request” instead of “demand” changes to government ordinances.

The Saenuri Party has decided to accept Chung’s proposal, while the NPAD continued internal discussion of whether to consent.

“Despite the concern that the speaker’s proposal could encroach upon the legislative branch, we have continued to discuss with party members and the speaker. We ask Cheong Wa Dae to give a sincere response to (our efforts),” said NPAD floor speaker Park Soo-hyun.

By Yeo Jun-suk (