Pres­i­dent slams Nat’l Assem­bly for po­lit­i­cal wran­gling

Par­ties urged to pass ur­gent bills for peo­ple’s liveli­hoods

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Do Je-hae [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in urged the po­lit­i­cal par­ties Mon­day to pass pend­ing bills such as the govern­ment’s 2020 bud­get amid a Na­tional Assem­bly dead­locked by the ri­val par­ties con­tin­ued wran­gling over the open­ing of a ple­nary ses­sion.

“The 20th Na­tional Assem­bly is in a state of paral­y­sis,” Moon said at the start of a weekly meet­ing with se­nior pres­i­den­tial aides at Cheong Wa Dae, ac­cord­ing to press pool re­ports. “It is re­gret­table con­sid­er­ing that this is the time to get fruit­ful re­sults in leg­is­la­tion and bud­get ex­e­cu­tion.” This was the first time for Moon to pre­side over the meet­ing in three weeks.

The Pres­i­dent strongly urged the par­ties to keep bills rel­e­vant to the safety and liveli­hoods of the peo­ple out of po­lit­i­cal fights. “The 20th Na­tional Assem­bly has con­tin­ued to be dys­func­tional, putting par­ti­san in­ter­ests ahead of the peo­ple’s liveli­hoods, which has re­gressed our pol­i­tics. The par­ties are us­ing bills cru­cial to the peo­ple’s liveli­hoods as bar­gain­ing chips. This is un­think­able,” Moon said.

The re­marks were seen as crit­i­cism of the main op­po­si­tion Lib­erty Korea Party (LKP), which has filed for a fil­i­buster on the 199 bills pend­ing on a vote in the ple­nary ses­sion.

Moon and the rul­ing Demo­cratic Party of Korea (DPK) are plac­ing a pri­or­ity on pass­ing the 2020 bud­get, which is aimed at re­viv­ing the econ­omy amid bleak growth fore­casts for next year and a hope­less job mar­ket.

“The dead­line for pass­ing the bud­get has al­ready passed. The bud­get has a pro­found im­pact on our econ­omy and peo­ple’s lives, and de­lay­ing its han­dling pre­vents a timely and ef­fi­cient ex­e­cu­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, we hope that the Assem­bly will unite in pass­ing the bud­get swiftly to help over­come in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal chal­lenges, im­prove the eco­nomic sen­ti­ment of the peo­ple and busi­nesses, and speed up eco­nomic re­cov­ery.”

DPL floor leader Rep. Lee In-young called on the LKP to can­cel its fil­i­buster ap­pli­ca­tion dur­ing a party meet­ing to dis­cuss open­ing the ple­nary ses­sion. “Based on the Na­tional Assem­bly Law, we will be open to find­ing a way to nor­mal­ize the Assem­bly by join­ing forces with all other par­ties ex­cept the LKP.”

Pres­i­dent Moon has placed a pri­or­ity on eco­nomic re­cov­ery af­ter start­ing the sec­ond half of his term last month. In this re­gard, his 2020 bud­get places an em­pha­sis on se­cur­ing Korea’s po­si­tion as a leader of the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion, while in­creas­ing in­vest­ment in core in­dus­tries, such as semi­con­duc­tors, bio­health and fu­ture cars.

Dur­ing a speech at the Assem­bly in Oc­to­ber to ex­pound on his bud­get pro­posal, the Pres­i­dent also vowed to help small and medium busi­nesses be­come more com­pet­i­tive and prof­itable, while as­sist­ing them to hire more peo­ple. In par­tic­u­lar, the 2020 bud­get pro­posal contains plans to ex­pand aid for the self-em­ployed and mi­cro-busi­ness own­ers who have com­plained that key eco­nomic poli­cies such as a swift in­crease in the min­i­mum wage have made it harder for them to make ends meets.

Moon also made a strong plea for other im­por­tant pend­ing bills re­lat­ing to the public safety, in­clud­ing a re­vi­sion to the Road Traf­fic Act to en­sure safety in school zones.

“The Assem­bly should take to heart the desperate cries of par­ents. All bills re­lated to public safety, liveli­hoods and the econ­omy have a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for the peo­ple. I sin­cerely ask the Assem­bly to re­as­sure the peo­ple by do­ing away with a cul­ture that links such bills to po­lit­i­cal strife.”

No men­tion was made of a pos­si­ble Cabi­net reshuf­fle to fill some key posts, such as prime min­is­ter and jus­tice min­is­ter, a post that has been va­cant since Moon’s close aide Cho Kuk left amid a widen­ing pros­e­cu­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his fam­ily and him­self re­gard­ing cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

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