Assem­bly speaker strug­gling to unite ri­val par­ties

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Jung Da-min [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Na­tional Assem­bly Speaker Moon Hee-sang and lead­ers of the rul­ing Demo­cratic Party of Korea (DPK) and three other op­po­si­tion par­ties held their first meet­ing at the JW Mar­riott Ho­tel Seoul, Fri­day. But main op­po­si­tion Lib­erty Korea Party (LKP) leader Hwang Kyo-ahn did not at­tend the meet­ing cit­ing a “busy sched­ule.”

Moon and the four party lead­ers in­clud­ing Rep. Lee Hae-chan of the DPK, Sohn Hak-kyu of the Bare­un­mi­rae Party, Rep. Sim Sangjung of the Jus­tice Party and Rep. Chung Dong-young of the Party for Democ­racy and Peace, agreed on the es­tab­lish­ment of a work­ing group to push for re­form plans in­clud­ing key ju­di­ciary and election bills that had been placed on the fast track on April 30. The work­ing group would con­sist of six mem­bers rec­om­mended by the speaker and five lead­ers of the main and op­po­si­tion par­ties.

“Lead­ers of the main and op­po­si­tion par­ties spoke frankly on var­i­ous pend­ing is­sues and agreed to hold de­tailed dis­cus­sions on spe­cific agenda such as re­form bills put on the fast track at the next meet­ing when Hwang would also at­tend,” Na­tional Assem­bly spokesman Han Min-soo told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing, which had been held be­hind closed doors. They will con­tinue to hold closed-doors meet­ings in or­der to fa­cil­i­tate real dis­cus­sions.

But such ef­forts to bridge gaps be­tween the par­ties are likely to face a bumpy road. Moon was re­port­edly con­sid­er­ing sub­mit­ting the ju­di­ciary re­form bills to the Assem­bly’s ple­nary ses­sion late this month due to the LKP’s op­po­si­tion to it. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Assem­bly Act, a bill placed on the fast track goes through 180 days of dis­cus­sions in a stand­ing com­mit­tee in charge of it, fol­lowed by 90 days of dis­cus­sions at the Leg­is­la­tion and Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee be­fore be­ing sub­mit­ted to the ple­nary ses­sion. An­other 60 days of dis­cus­sions would fol­low the ple­nary ses­sion.

The cur­rent con­flict be­tween the DPK and LKP started early this year, when they were tus­sling at the Na­tional Assem­bly over fast-track­ing the ju­di­ciary and election re­form bills. LKP law­mak­ers made all-out ef­forts to op­pose it, but the DPK and the three smaller par­ties pushed ahead with it.

The ju­di­ciary re­form bills in­clude es­tab­lish­ing a spe­cial unit to in­ves­ti­gate cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions against high-rank­ing gov­ern­ment and pub­lic of­fi­cials, independen­t from the pros­e­cu­tion, and en­hanc­ing the po­lice’s in­ves­tiga­tive au­thor­ity, such as giv­ing the po­lice the right to close a case, to en­able the po­lice and the pros­e­cu­tion to hold each other in check.

The sec­ond meet­ing for po­lit­i­cal ne­go­ti­a­tions among Moon and party lead­ers is ex­pected to be held af­ter Moon’s over­seas trip. Moon will be head­ing to Bel­grade, Ser­bia, Oct. 13, to at­tend the 141st In­ter-Par­lia­men­tary Union (IPU) Assem­bly held from Oct. 13 to 14. Moon will also visit Azerbaijan and Ge­or­gia be­fore com­ing back to Seoul on Oct. 21.

The work­ing-level talks among the par­ties are ex­pected to be held in the mean­time.

Mean­while, the election re­form bills have al­ready been passed to the Leg­is­la­tion and Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee from the spe­cial com­mit­tee for po­lit­i­cal re­forms as of Aug. 29.

Yon­hap

Rep. Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the main op­po­si­tion Lib­erty Korea Party speaks dur­ing a rally against the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion to dis­miss an ar­rest war­rant for Jus­tice Min­is­ter Cho Kuk’s brother, at the Supreme Court in Seo­cho, Seoul, Fri­day.

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