Assembly passes bill to probe Lee’s house plan

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Assembly passes bill to probe Lee’s house plan

Following hours of bickering yesterday, the ruling and opposition parties at the National Assembly main session passed a bill to appoint an independent counsel to investigate a botched plan to build President Lee Myung-bak’s retirement home.

Yesterday marked the first day of the legislature’s 100-day-long ordinary session.

The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party argued in the morning in front of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee over the independent counsel bill.

The ruling party said the bill was unconstitutional because the DUP will be given the right to recommend the two independent counsel candidates, but lost in the voting.

Of the 16 members on the committee, 14 participated in the voting and eight lawmakers supported it while six opposed.

Although the Saenuri Party had eight lawmakers on the committee, two were absent, thus allowing the opposition to outnumber them. After the committee voting, the bill was sent to the main voting session.

Last year, media reported the controversial purchase of land in southern Seoul under the name of President Lee’s son, raising suspicions that Lee was sidestepping inheritance laws.

Lee, then, ordered his staff to nix the plan, but the opposition lawmakers had demanded an independent counsel probe as a condition to end the deadlock in the legislature.

The confrontation over the independence counsel bill at the committee delayed the scheduled opening ceremony of the National Assembly and the first plenary session for three hours.

At the opening ceremony, National Assembly Speaker Kang Chang-hee said the legislature’s top priority is the livelihood of the people, promising to quickly approve all bills that are linked to job creation and price stabilization.

He also reminded the lawmakers of political reform pledges, urging them to give up their privileges. He also asked the ruling and opposition parties to end the tradition of political fighting for the legislature to operate smoothly.

Following the ceremony, the Assembly held a plenary session.

A motion to allow the arrest of Representative Hyun Young-hee for the investigation of the money-for-nomination scandal was introduced at the plenary session.

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

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