Back To Top

Political standoff continues to paralyze National Assembly in May

Rival parties continued a standoff Monday, failing to normalize the National Assembly that has been paralyzed since April. Lawmakers have been clashing over several agenda items, including a recent opinion-rigging scandal, a supplementary budget and a set of contentious bills.

A closed-door meeting of the four negotiating blocs in the morning ended without reaching an agreement. The main sticking point was a demand from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, which insists that a special counsel probe should be launched -- immediately on Tuesday -- into the opinion-rigging scandal involving a blogger allegedly linked to a lawmaker of the ruling party.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea said it would accept the probe, but the date has to be pushed back so that the special investigation bill is put to a vote at the same time as the pending supplementary budget bill, in a regular plenary session scheduled for May 24.

Floor leader Rep. Kim Sung-tae (center) and the members of Liberty Korea Party protest holding a sign demanding for an immediate acceptance of the ruling Democratic Party of a special counsel probe into an opinion rigging scandal, inside the National Assembly building on Monday. (Yonhap)
Floor leader Rep. Kim Sung-tae (center) and the members of Liberty Korea Party protest holding a sign demanding for an immediate acceptance of the ruling Democratic Party of a special counsel probe into an opinion rigging scandal, inside the National Assembly building on Monday. (Yonhap)

“If the ruling Democratic Party does not show a responsible attitude toward the normalization of the parliament until the deadline set by the National Assembly speaker, it would be the end of the May parliament (session),” said floor leader Rep. Kim Sung-tae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, in an outdoor emergency party meeting.

National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun has announced he will come up with special measures if the lawmakers fail to reach an agreement before 2 p.m. on Tuesday, hinting that he may not open a plenary session after the deadline.

Aside from the supplementary budget bill, floor leader Rep. Woo Won-shik of the Democratic Party said he has proposed a set of conditions in accepting the special counsel probe, calling for the opposition parties to resume legislative procedures to pass other pending bills related to people’s livelihoods, but the rivals rejected them.

“We cannot but suspect that the opposition is trying to keep the National Assembly crippled, putting the blame on us and trying to win support in the upcoming local election,” Rep. Woo told reporters after the meeting.

The supplementary budget bill was submitted by the Moon Jae-in administration on April 6.

The Parliamentary Group for Peace and Justice, which is a joint negotiating bloc of the center-left opposition Party for Democracy and Peace and the far-left Justice Party, also criticized the opposition, questioning their will to negotiate.

The Liberty Korea Party and center-right opposition Bareunmirae Party, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the conditions presented by the ruling party.

“The parliamentary vote for the special counsel probe should be passed Tuesday. The ruling Democratic Party has conveyed too many preconditions, for its acceptance of a special investigation,” floor leader Rep. Kim Sung-tae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said.

Floor leader Rep. Kim Dong-cheol of the Bareunmirae Party also said that the ruling party has set too many preconditions.

The sentiment in the parliament appears to have been aggravated after a man attacked floor leader Kim Sung-tae of the Liberty Korea Party. The conservative opposition party suspects the ruling party may be behind the assailant.

From left: Rep. Roh Hoe-chan of the Parliamentary Group for Peace and Justice, Rep. Kim Sung-tae of Liberty Korea Party, Rep. Woo Won-shik of Democratic Party of Korea, Rep. Kim Dong-cheol of Bareunmirae Party. (Yonhap)
From left: Rep. Roh Hoe-chan of the Parliamentary Group for Peace and Justice, Rep. Kim Sung-tae of Liberty Korea Party, Rep. Woo Won-shik of Democratic Party of Korea, Rep. Kim Dong-cheol of Bareunmirae Party. (Yonhap)

On Saturday, a man in his 30s punched Rep. Kim on the chin in front of the National Assembly building. Rep. Kim, who has been on a hunger strike since Thursday to demand the special counsel probe, received medical treatment and has since resumed his sit-in protest wearing a neck brace.

The assailant, surnamed Kim, apparently was enraged by the Liberty Korea Party, as it appeared to oppose the ratification of the joint inter-Korean declaration. Police said Kim claimed that he had acted independently and that he had originally intended to attack the conservative party’s Chairman Hong Joon-pyo.

Hong called it a “planned” attack, alleging that the ruling party may be behind the assailant. The ruling party fired back, calling it an “exaggerated attempt to raise an allegation.”

On Monday, the assailant’s father released a statement, saying that his son’s actions were planned on his own. He also said his son has always lived innocently, sacrificing for others. He said he would visit Rep. Kim Sung-tae and apologize to him in person. The prosecution requested an arrest warrant for the assailant on Sunday.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)

MOST POPULAR
LATEST NEWS
subscribe