Lawmakers still split on specifics of investigation

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Lawmakers still split on specifics of investigation

Lawmakers appeared divided yesterday over whether to call in President Park Geun-hye and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak for questioning over the Sewol ferry disaster, following a decision by both parties earlier to launch a joint probe looking into the cause of the accident.

Under the original plan, both the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) were scheduled to submit documents calling for an official investigation yesterday at the plenary session. The proposal was set to be approved next Tuesday.

However, as of press time, the plan was being delayed. The NPAD demands the list of government officials to be questioned include President Park, which the Saenuri opposes.

“Koreans, the bereaved families of the Sewol victims, in particular, want a thorough investigation into the accident,” NPAD floor leader Park Young-sun said yesterday at the National Assembly. “We must definitely look into how the reporting system at the Blue House operated at the time of the accident; that is supposed to be the crux of the investigation. People are enraged, wondering what kind of safety system led to the failure to save even a single life in the initial 72 hours.”

More than 300 people died in the accident on April 16, when the ferry suddenly began to list and eventually capsized en route to Jeju Island from Incheon.

The ship was carrying 476 passengers, mostly high school students on a class trip, and authorities failed to save any survivors following the first day of the incident, the worst maritime disaster in Korean history.

Kim Jae-won, the Saenuri’s deputy floor leader, said at the party’s general meeting at the National Assembly that the main opposition had started demanding on Monday that Park as well as past presidents be summoned for investigation. Those calls were made, he added, while the two parties were jointly readjusting the phrasing in the related documents to be submitted.

“First, I wonder what on earth the previous president has to do with the Sewol disaster,” he said. “But I could never understand why they [NPAD] claim that the incumbent president should be probed.”

“The NPAD keeps mentioning the Blue House,” Kim continued. “I can accept as far as the National Security Council (NSC) under the presidential office in becoming the subject of investigation, but I cannot agree to the opposition’s argument that the Assembly should probe the entire Blue House.”

Park Young-sun, the NPAD floor leader, noted that replacing the president’s key aides should come before a ministerial reshuffle.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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