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Big issues to resurface after polls

Diverse issues put on hold due to the by-elections, which are expected to shake up the nation’s political circles.

The government plans to submit the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement to the National Assembly for ratification in early May after finishing translation checks, according to local news reports.

The trade pact will likely cause a clash between the rival parties, which are already fiercely debating the Korea-EU free trade accord, a deal with relatively fewer causes of discord than the deal with the United States.

The bribery incident involving savings banks is another source of controversy. President Lee Myung-bak recently ordered a thorough investigation into allegations that several customers of Busan Savings Bank withdrew 18 billion won ($16.6 million) after the bank closed on Feb. 16, a day before the financial regulator suspended the lender’s operations. Opposition parties demand a parliamentary audit of the government over the scandal.

Constitutional revision is another issue awaiting after the by-elections. It is likely to be raised mostly by ruling party lawmakers loyal to President Lee Myung-bak, as political observers see an amendment as a theme that the pro-Lee faction would use at least to maintain their leadership in state affairs at the end of Lee’s presidency.

The proposed withdrawal of the corporate tax cut, which generated a lot of controversy within the ruling camp late last year, is likely to emerge as another point of contention. Earlier, a group of young Grand National Party lawmakers who support the plan met to discuss the issue on April 25. They reportedly decided to keep gathering like-minded GNP lawmakers after the party elects its new floor leader on May 2.

By Chun Sung-woo (