All eyes on Park as she makes first policy speech

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All eyes on Park as she makes first policy speech


President Park Geun-hye will make her first administrative policy speech at the National Assembly today as tensions between the ruling Saenuri Party and the opposition Democratic Party have reached a fever pitch over the National Intelligence Agency’s alleged smear campaign ahead of last year’s presidential election.

According to the Blue House, Park will discuss next year’s state budget plan and pending bills intended to boost the economy. It is her third official visit to the Assembly following trilateral talks in September with Democratic Party head Kim Han-gill and the Saenuri Party’s Chairman Hwang Woo-yea.

This makes Park the fourth president to make such a speech, which likely will detail a road map for the state budget plan and a direction on national policies.

However, the Democrats are closely watching whether Park will comment on the NIS’s alleged cyber campaign in which the country’s top spy agency posted comments online supporting Park and disparaging her Democratic rival, Moon Jae-in.

The controversy surrounding the case has pitted the two parties against each other since the president took office.

Park’s remark on the case could mark a turning point, which could serve as a stop to political wrangling over the case, DP spokesman Park Yong-jin said at a press briefing yesterday.

The Democrats have demanded Park launch an independent investigation and designate a special prosecutor for the case, arguing that the ongoing investigation is biased and influenced by the ruling party.

A total of 12 Democratic Party lawmakers held a press briefing yesterday in front of the Blue House in central Seoul calling for the launch of a special probe and an independent National Assembly counsel, submitting autographs of 92 DP lawmakers on the demands to the Blue House. They also demanded the dismissal of the NIS chief, the justice minister, the defense minister and the minister of patriots and veterans affairs over their alleged involvement in the case.

“Most of the allegations on the NIS interference with the election have been made public, but the president is keeping her silence, stating ‘it is none of my business,’” the DP lawmakers said in the joint statement yesterday. “However, there is only one way [to resolve this case]. President Park must adopt a ‘special prosecutor’s system’ and launch an independent National Assembly counsel, as well as punish those involved in the case.”

On Oct. 31, at a meeting with senior presidential secretaries, Park broke her silence on the case, saying she would “clearly figure out the suspicions for the people and ask [those] to take responsibility if needed.”

In September, Democratic Party head Kim Han-gill told reporters that at the trilateral meeting, Park was “upset” over the NIS case, quoting her as saying, “Are you saying that I won the race thanks to those online comments?” So far, the ruling party has refused a special investigation and National Assembly counsel.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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