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Main opposition embarks on charm offensive with new leadership

Kim Chong-in (right), chief of the United Future Party‘s emergency leadership committee, speaks during the committee’s first meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Kim Chong-in (right), chief of the United Future Party‘s emergency leadership committee, speaks during the committee’s first meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)


In an attempt to refresh its heritage brand, the United Future Party stressed forward-looking policies and protection of the weak, proposing its first bill for the new parliament on Monday.

The conservative party launched a nine-member emergency leadership committee, led by veteran politician Kim Chong-in, with a mission to restore voter support by April next year.

With the new slogan of “accompanying the weak,” the conservative faction plans to undergo drastic changes to depart from its traditional growth-centered approach to the economy.

“I will make the United Future Party a forward-looking political party through the work of the emergency committee. I promise that the party will play a leading role in policymaking,” Kim said while presiding over the first meeting of the body at the National Assembly.

Noting the success of the government’s response to protect citizens’ health from the new coronavirus, he said now is the time to go beyond containment work to deal with COVID-19-induced social and economic issues.

“I hope that the government would work in a direction that could yield a balanced outlook by not simply focusing on infectious disease prevention and control as the coronavirus crisis has entered its second phase,” he said, adding that the party will set out its detailed COVID-19-related measures in the next meeting after consulting with other group members.

Floor Leader Joo Ho-young said he will put utmost efforts into putting forward bills and policies tailored to meet demand of the people.

On Monday, the conservative group submitted its first bill to the 21st Assembly, which started its four-year term Saturday.

The symbolic bill aims at cushioning the pandemic’s financial blow to small business owners and the self-employed. It also includes support packages tailed for various groups, including a refund of college tuition for students complaining about schools moving courses online, child care support for working parents and better protection of tenants of leased properties, among other measures.

“In addition to the bill, the party decided to focus on four major areas in legislation -- economy, fairness, safety and the future,” the party said in a statement.

In the economic sector, the party will push to reinvigorate the nuclear power industry and shore up the venture ecosystem. In the fairness category, greater transparency in nonprofit organizations’ management in donations and subsidies is included.

Establishment of a control tower for national disaster response and fostering new industries that will drive the “fourth industrial revolution” will be contained in upcoming bills, it said.

Ahead of the first extraordinary session, the United Future Party is seeking not to be inferior to the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, which has a super majority of 177 seats in the 300-seat parliament.

Floor Leader Joo criticized the ruling faction for trying to take unilateral actions by abusing its majority power after his counterpart Kim Tae-nyeon repeatedly called for cooperation to hold the session and meet the deadline as set by law. The first extraordinary session of the Assembly ought to take place in the first seven days of its four-year term, which falls on Friday.

The rival parties have been bickering over how many leadership seats of the 18 standing committees they should have and who will take the top seats of key committees.

“I expect the emergency committee will break old practices and bring about changes that are in line with the spirit of the times,” ruling party Floor Leader Kim said. “To prove that political parties are willing to work for the people, the United Future Party must participate in the opening of the 21st National Assembly without any conditions attached.”

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com
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