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GNP asks speaker to present key bills

Media reform measures may have floor vote  PLAY AUDIO

July 15,2009
National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyung-o (right) listens to Ahn Sang-soo, floor leader of the ruling Grand National Party, in Kim’s office yesterday. Ahn officially asked Kim to directly introduce contentious bills on media industry reform and non-regular workers to the main chamber for voting today. [NEWSIS]
Nearing the end of the scheduled legislative session, the Grand National Party officially asked National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyung-o yesterday to directly introduce contentious bills on media industry reform and non-regular workers to the main chamber for voting.

The request was made shortly after further negotiations with opposition parties to end the legislative deadlock failed. The National Assembly is scheduled to hold a voting session today, but the sensitive bills have been stuck in standing committees with no sign of budging.

The GNP delegation, headed by floor leader Ahn Sang-soo, visited Kim’s office in the afternoon.

“There seems to be no possibility that the media industry reform bills and non-regular worker bills will be approved at the standing committees under the current situation,” Ahn told Kim. “There is no other way except for the National Assembly speaker to use his power to forcibly arrange for a vote.”

Kim, a former GNP member, has the authority to directly introduce bills to the main legislative session for a vote.

The Grand Nationals currently occupy 169 of the 295-seat National Assembly - more than the majority needed to pass the bills. The main opposition Democratic Party controls 84 seats.

Ahn made the request shortly after a fruitless meeting with opposition counterparts earlier in the day.

During the 20-minute closed-door meeting, Kim listened to Ahn’s plea, without giving an answer, said Representative Shin Sung-bum, a GNP spokesman.

Thirty minutes later, Lee Kang-rae, floor leader of the Democratic Party, visited Kim’s office. “In the past, National Assembly speakers have tried their best to avoid using the power to introduce a bill for voting,” Lee told Kim. “Promise that the media industry reform bills will not be introduced.”

To that, Kim said, “I will not do anything except for what has been agreed between the ruling and opposition parties [when the session opens today] ... Trust me on that, and stop asking embarrassing questions.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Ahn, Lee Kang-rae and Moon Kook-hyun, floor leader of the alliance of minority opposition Liberty Forward and Creative Korea parties, sat down at a lunch table to hammer out a legislative timetable, but failed.

They did not even schedule a follow-up meeting, participants said.

A scheduled meeting of the National Assembly’s Committee on Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications failed to open as planned at 2 p.m. yesterday.

Democrats staged a sit-in in the hallway in front of the committee conference room and physically blocked Grand National lawmakers from entering the meeting.

The committee met on Monday, but no voting on the media bills took place due to the lawmaker arguments.

Three versions of the bills, variously sponsored by the GNP, DP and the minority parties’ alliance, have been introduced.

“We will end the sit-in only after the GNP promises that the media industry reform bills will not be directly introduced at the legislative session for voting,” said DP lawmaker Jun Byung-hun.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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