Ruling party apologizes for disturbance

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Ruling party apologizes for disturbance

Faced with a storm of criticism, the ruling Saenuri Party expressed regret yesterday over an unexpected outburst by its floor leader a day before that was directed toward the main opposition leader during a parliamentary speech.

“We, the Saenuri Party, will self-examine ourselves [for long-held parliamentary malpractice]. From now, such remarks of mockery and ridicule should not occur again,” Kang Eun-hee, the spokeswoman of the ruling party, said during a press briefing yesterday at the National Assembly.

She added that the Saenuri will change its behavior and asked the opposition to follow suit.

The controversy surrounding Saenuri floor leader Choi Kyung-hwan and Ahn Cheol-soo, the co-chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), started when Choi lashed out at the former software mogul as he was delivering his address to the Assembly on Wednesday, the second day of an extra parliamentary session.

“Mind your own business!” the conservative three-term lawmaker shouted at Ahn during the speech.

Choi was apparently upset over Ahn’s tone, which he interpreted as critical of the ruling party’s decision to renege on its 2012 election promise to abolish its party nomination system for candidates in the June local elections.

In his speech, the NPAD co-chairman pointed out that President Park Geun-hye has not acknowledged the flip-flop. He also questioned why the Saenuri floor leader had to publicly apologize in the ruling party’s address on Tuesday for breaking its promise when the president herself has kept quiet on the issue.

“Is it because of his heartfelt loyalty [to the president], or his arrogation of authority?” Ahn said.

Choi’s outburst during the speech prompted a barrage of shouting and ridicule from ruling party members. Lawmakers from the opposition also joined the screaming match to counter their opponents’ verbal taunts.

“Stop raising your voice!” one parliamentarian could be heard yelling.

Making matters worse, perhaps, dozens of elementary and middle school students were on hand to observe the parliamentary session.

After it was reported that Choi’s remark spawned the ruckus, opposition lawmakers were quick to condemn him and questioned how such a senior figure in the ruling party could have acted so disrespectfully toward his rival counterpart. The Saenuri promptly fired back at the NPAD, claiming Ahn used provocative language.

Tensions between the two sides eased yesterday, however, after Kang called for restraint.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]


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