Five political parties on Wednesday agreed to normalize parliamentary operations in a last-minute meeting organized by National Assembly Speaker Rep. Moon Hee-sang.
Under the agreement, the parties will resume operation of all committees, including that of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts.
National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang (third from left) and floor leaders of the political parties pose for a photograph at the National Assembly on Wednesday. Yonhap
The parties also agreed that bills concerning tougher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, and those concerning regulations on private kindergartens will be processed during the regular session of the National Assembly.
In return for the conservative opposition’s agreement to resume parliamentary procedures, the ruling Democratic Party agreed to launch a parliamentary investigation into irregularities in hiring at state-run organizations.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the minor conservative Bareunmirae Party have been demanding an investigation into a scandal that was sparked by irregularities found in Seoul Metro’s hiring process. They threatened to halt all parliamentary processes when the demand was rejected.
The probe will be launched after the regular session of the National Assembly draws to a close next month, and the plans for the investigation will be put to a plenary session in December.
According to Democratic Party floor leader Rep. Hong Young-pyo, his party and Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon have accepted the opposition’s demands, but warned that “baseless political attacks or slander will not be tolerated.”
The parties also agreed to the Democratic Party’s suggestion of increasing the number of members on the subcommittee for budget review to 16 from the current 15 by raising the number allocated to the ruling party by one.
In addition, the parties also agreed to restart the working group of the three largest parties -- the Democratic Party, the Liberty Korea Party and the Bareunmirae Party -- to review bills the parties and the government agreed to pass in the current session.
Wednesday’s agreement also calls for the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court justice nominee Kim Sang-hwan to be held before the end of the regular session.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org