Ruling party head calls for meeting to solve impasse

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Ruling party head calls for meeting to solve impasse

The ruling party chairman yesterday urged the opposition party to resolve the legislative deadlock over the government restructuring plan before the end of this week, proposing a joint meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly.

“I propose a joint meeting among the National Assembly speaker, and the deputy speakers if necessary, the heads and floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties,” Hwang Woo-yea, chairman of the Saenuri Party, said yesterday during the party’s leadership meeting.

“I want to resolve the issue [on the government restructuring plan] before the end of the weekend.”

“Right now, we face a North Korean nuclear crisis and rapid changes in the global economy,” Hwang said.

“The people believe the government can launch and the president can run the country smoothly only after the government restructuring bills are passed and confirmation hearings for the minister nominees are completed during the February session.”

The National Assembly’s extraordinary session is scheduled to end Tuesday.

While the Saenuri Party supports President Park Geun-hye’s plan to restructure the ministries, the main opposition Democratic United Party made clear its opposition to the idea of allowing the new Ministry of Future Planning and Science to oversee policy governing broadcasters.

Saenuri floor leader, Representative Lee Hahn-koo, also spoke sharply about the DUP ending the deadlock.

“The DUP must get over its anger and despair from the presidential defeat as soon as possible,” Lee said.

“I expect it to show a reasonable and responsible attitude as a main opposition party.”

He also reminded the DUP that its defeated presidential candidate, Moon Jae-in, had made similar promises on creating a new ministry to be in charge of information, communication and technology, urging it to approve Park’s plan.

The DUP yesterday reacted coldly to Hwang’s proposal for a joint meeting.

“A meeting without substance is nothing but a photo op,” Park Yong-jin, spokesman of the DUP, said.

“The people will be disappointed by it.”

Park said it is nonsense for the ruling party to blame the DUP for the slow progress in forming the government although the ruling party was late to submit the government restructuring plan and Park was late in nominating the cabinet members.

“It’s like a tardy student complaining to the professor for not ending the class quickly,” he said.

DUP’s floor leader, Park Ki-choon, yesterday urged President Park to act.

“The ruling party leadership has no will or power to negotiate with us,” he said. “The DUP will wait patiently with people. The president must make a move to resolve the situation.”

He also expressed displeasure at Park’s decision to keep the vacancy for the national security office chief of the Blue House, while she appointed all other aides under the titles used by her predecessor.

The DUP leader said Park made the move deliberately to feed a distorted image to the public by politicizing the national security crisis.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won yesterday paid visits to the National Assembly and met with the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties separately. He asked for the legislature’s cooperation to approve the bills as soon as possible.

Chung also made a rare move and attended the vice ministerial meeting yesterday and urged them to pay special attention to the people’s livelihoods and price stabilization.

The meeting of the vice ministers is normally hosted by the minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, but Chung attended it and asked the civil servants to do their best to cope with the delayed appointments of the ministers and the subsequent administrative vacuum in the opening remarks.

On her fourth day as president, Park had no official schedule. Kim Haing, Blue House spokeswoman, said Park would spend the day contemplating state affairs.

At a meeting with her presidential aides on Wednesday, Park spoke for the first time about her frustration over the administrative vacuum. Later in the day, Lee Jung-hyun, Park’s senior secretary for political affairs, paid visits to the leaders of the Saenuri Party and the DUP and sought their cooperation for the government restructuring plan.

Lee visited the National Assembly without prior announcement.

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

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