Assembly passes gov’t reshuffle bill 52 days later

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Assembly passes gov’t reshuffle bill 52 days later

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President Park Geun-hye walks into a conversation room with new cabinet members after she handed out official letters of appointment yesterday at the Blue House following the National Assembly’s approval of the government restructuring bill. From left: Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, National Security Council Chief Kim Jang-soo, Strategy and Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok, chief of staff Huh Tae-yeol, President Park, Financial Services Commission Chief Shin Je-yoon, Security and Public Administration Minister Yoo Jeong-bok, Presidential Security Service Chief Park Heung-ryul and National Intelligence Service chief Nam Jae-joon [Joint Press Corps]

The National Assembly yesterday approved a government restructuring bill that included a plan to create the Ministry of Future Planning and Science and revive the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, 52 days after the bill was submitted to the legislature and 26 days since Park Geun-hye was inaugurated as president.

In the plenary session held at 2 p.m. yesterday in Yeouido, western Seoul, 188 out of 212 lawmakers who attended the session cast a vote for the government restructuring bill that was made by prior consultation between lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Democratic United Party, while 11 voted against the bill and 13 abstained.

Before the bill’s approval yesterday, Park’s administration had difficulty managing significant government affairs.

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test and servers of the country’s major broadcasting networks KBS, MBC and YTN - as well as some major banks - were cyberattacked, but Kim Jang-soo, the nominee to head the National Security Office of the Blue House, was not even able to hold a meeting with security-related government officials.

The outlook on the restructuring bill was uncertain until Thursday night as lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party and the DUP could not narrow down their differences in opinion over the issue of assigning the oversight authority of terrestrial and cable TV networks.

The tug-of-war between the two parties was resolved when the ruling Saenuri Party decided to accept the demands the DUP proposed.

At the committee meeting held prior to the plenary session at the Committee on Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications, lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties agreed on the Korea Communications Commission keeping its right to approve who can operate terrestrial TV broadcasters.

It also agreed that system operators of cable networks must obtain permission from the commission to not only operate their businesses but also make changes.

It also stated that the future planning ministry must seek the prior approval of the commission when they want to revise or establish relevant laws to the cable network license.

Some members of the Saenuri Party who have been participating in negotiating the subject over the issue are still opposed to the result.

Cho Hae-jin, a Saenuri lawmaker, said, “I feel extremely ashamed over the result.” Cho cast a blank ballot in protest.

The political circle judged that the Saenuri Party’s abrupt backing down was likely influenced by the Blue House, which must handle many significant issues such as national security problems.

The deputy prime minister for economy will be revived for the first time in five years, and the external trade section will be transferred back to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources (currently the Ministry of Knowledge Economy) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

By Kwon Ho, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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