The ruling Democratic Party of Korea and three minor opposition parties on Monday agreed to fast-track key reform bills this week after months of discussion amid strong opposition from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
Floor leaders of the four parties, including Rep. Hong Young-pyo of the ruling party and Rep. Kim Kwan-young of the minor conservative Bareunmirae Party, reached a consensus on the electoral reform bill and the establishment of an independent investigative agency, among other matters.
Prior to putting the electoral reform bill on the fast track, minor adjustments are to be made to an agreement reached by four assistant administrators of the special committee on political reform at last month’s meeting.
Backing down from its push for an independent investigative agency with the right both to investigate cases and indict criminal suspects, the ruling party agreed to establish an agency with partial indictment power.
Democratic Party of Korea floor leader Hong Young-pyo (second right) answers questions following the four floor leaders' annoucement to put key reform bills on the fast track on Monday. (Yonhap)
The agency, tasked with looking into wrongdoings by high-level government officials and their families, is to be given the authority to investigate, request warrants, and apply for adjudications if the prosecution drops a case.
If the accused person is a judge, prosecutor or police officer with the rank of superintendent general or higher, the agency will hold the authority to indict in order to check the power of the prosecution.
Asked about the change in the ruling party’s position, Hong said, “The agency targets some 7,000 people out of which 5,100 are judges, prosecutors and police in the superintendent general post or higher. I believe the agency has been given sufficient authority to function fully.”
The four parties are scheduled to each convene a meeting Wednesday morning to ratify the agreement. Once ratified, the revisions would come into effect next year with the 21st National Assembly.
Maintaining its staunch opposition to the reform bills, the Liberty Korea Party defined the latest agreement as “a parliamentary coup.”
Shortly after the announcement, conservative party Floor Leader Na Kyung-won said, “The second electoral reform bill and independent investigative body are put on the fast track, so there will be no 20th Assembly.
“Proceeding with the fast-tracking means they will quit democracy and the ruling party will prepare to secure 260 seats in the 21st Assembly as Democratic Party leader Lee Hae-chan has said.”
The Liberty Korea Party is also expected to hold an emergency meeting Tuesday morning.
By Kim Bo-gyung (firstname.lastname@example.org