Hot times ahead in city?

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Hot times ahead in city?

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Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon speaks yesterday to the city council. [NEWSIS]

For the first time since he protested in December 2010 against the city council’s unilateral decision to pass an ordinance offering free school lunches, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon met with city councilors yesterday and discussed the current situation on his pet initiatives such as the Han River Renaissance Project.

Tensions are expected to remain high at the Seoul Metropolitan Government as conflicts between Oh and the opposition Democratic Party-dominated council are expected to continue as the council meets until July 9.

The Democratic Party released a statement yesterday on the council’s Web site, which reads, “Oh’s absence for the past seven months is a cowardly action that can’t be forgiven. We ask him to take responsibility for [the vacancy] as Seoul city Mayor.”

In its statement, the party insisted that Seoul city government “has been suffering from continuous deficits since 2009,” demanding a strict inspection of the city’s budget.

The statement also says “the eco-friendly free-meal policy is currently one of the representative policies in Korea, which more than 80 percent of local governments are implementing, and it can’t be withdrawn at this moment.”

A coalition of 160 conservative groups, named the National Anti-Populism Union, collected more than 800,000 signatures on Thursday in support of holding a referendum on providing the free school meals. Oh told reporters on that day that he will determine whether to end the fight against the populism policy, after the referendum is conducted in August, although city councilors are skeptical of the credibility of the vote.

At the regular council session, Oh will talk about encouraging public participation in the upcoming poll for free lunches and also discuss four major issues - education, welfare for the elderly, housing and employment, the city government’s spokesman said yesterday.

Seoul city government yesterday expressed its strong will to implement the controversial project for constructing a waterway to boost the Han River’s links with the Yellow Sea and ports in China, although the Board of Audit and Inspection on Sunday called for the government to review the overhaul design of the project.

The board indicated the waterway project is lacking in business value and the government is exaggerating the profits from the waterway project more than the board calculated.

“Although the board said the project needs more review, we think it agreed with the purpose of the project itself,” Lee Jong-hyun, spokesman of Seoul Metropolitan Government said at the briefing.

“Considering the board’s inspection, we will execute the waterway project without suspension,” Lee said.

As for Oh’s other key project, building three artificial “Floating Islands” on the Han River, the board also criticized the government as giving too much benefit to Flossom Corp., a construction company building the islets.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
황우여-오세훈, '무상급식 주민투표' 회동

與서울시당 차원서 주민투표법 범위내 관심 공감
한나라당 황우여 원내대표와 오세훈 서울시장이 20일 만나 논란이 되고 있는 '무상급식 주민투표'와 관련해 의견을 나눠 주목된다.

두 사람이 단독 회동한 것은 황 원내대표가 원내 사령탑으로 선출된 지난달 6일 이후 처음이다.

오 시장의 초청으로 여의도의 한 한정식집에서 이뤄진 오찬 회동에서 오 시장은 황 원내대표에게 무상급식 주민투표 경과 과정 등을 설명하면서 당 차원의 협조를 요청한 것으로 알려졌다.

이에 대해 황 원내대표는 "서울시민의 주민투표인 만큼, 서울시당 차원에서 주민투표법이 허용하는 범위 내에서 관심을 갖도록 하자"는 입장을 전달한 것으로 전해졌다.


현행 주민투표법 하에서는 주민투표 청구가 공표되면 정치인들은 투표운동에는 제약이 있지만 언론 인터뷰나 대담, 초청토론을 통해 자신의 견해를 밝힐 수 있다.

최근 한나라당 내에서도 오 시장이 추진하려는 무상급식 주민투표에 대해 반대 견해가 나오는 상황에서, 오 시장이 언론 인터뷰 등을 통해 당이 자신에게 힘을 실어줄 것을 요청한 것으로 해석된다.

한편 황 원내대표는 회동에서 등록금 부담 완화와 보편적 무상급식과 관련, "등록금 부담 완화는 교육지원의 문제이지만 무상급식은 교육 분야에서의 복지 문제라는 점에서 차원과 철학이 다르다. 이걸 이해하면 국민도 혼동이 생기지 않을 것"이라고 언급한 것으로 알려졌다.

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