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Ruling GNP will open Assembly despite opposition

DP says it may withdraw demands if media bill revisions are dropped  PLAY AUDIO

June 23,2009
The ruling Grand National Party said yesterday it had unilaterally decided to proceed with the extraordinary session of the National Assembly on Friday.

The main opposition Democratic Party, which has refused to join the session originally scheduled for June 1, said it will “strongly protest against the move.”

The GNP will submit a document demanding an extraordinary session to the National Assembly today and should it be submitted as planned, the session will take place on Friday, 72 hours after the request is made, as stipulated by National Assembly regulations.

All GNP lawmakers, the conservative pro-Park Geun-hye alliance and some independent lawmakers are expected to sign the document. An extraordinary session can be held when one-quarter or more of all lawmakers agree.

“We can no longer wait for the DP ... it’s like talking to a wall,” GNP floor leader Ahn Sang-soo told reporters. “Even if we hold the extraordinary session, we intend to continue negotiating with the DP on bills,”

Kim Seong-jo, the GNP’s chief policy maker, said the June session will be the last chance for the National Assembly to discuss bills that don’t entail government budgets, since the regular session in September can only review those that do, giving a rationale for the GNP’s independent move.

Kim cited the bills on non-regular workers as an example. Unless the bills are revised at the June session, a large number of non-regular workers could be laid off from July 1, he claimed.

The GNP plans to revise related laws to postpone the scheduled July 1 implementation of the bill to force corporate employers to upgrade the status of non-regular workers to regular workers if they want to continue employing them. If the bills take effect as planned, companies might opt for layoffs instead of shifting the workers’ status, the GNP claims.

Ahn also made it clear that the controversial media reform bills will “definitely be passed at the June session.”

Lee Kang-rae, floor leader of the DP, said, “If the GNP makes a wrong decision, it will be a catastrophe, creating a challenging situation for this administration.”

The DP has consistently said it won’t participate in the National Assembly session unless the ruling party accepts five demands, including an apology from President Lee Myung-bak for the suicide of former President Roh Moo-hyun.

The DP also asked the GNP to give up plans to pass the media reform bills. Last Saturday, the DP said it might withdraw the five demands should the GNP decide to drop the media bills.

The two parties have clashed strongly over this proposed legislation, which would allow private businesses and newspapers to own terrestrial broadcasters. Although the two parties in March agreed to vote on the bills in the upcoming session, the DP is trying to stop the bills, claiming conglomerates and major newspapers will expand their control over broadcasters, only doing good for the corporate-friendly Lee administration. The GNP and the Lee government argue the bills will boost competitiveness in the broadcasting industry, create more jobs and diversify the media.

The DP yesterday unveiled research on the media reform bills, which showed 63 percent of 1,000 respondents fear the media bill revision will “help larger businesses control public opinion.”


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]




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