No success in bridging divide over law’s termsThe ruling and opposition parties failed once again to meet halfway on the terms of the special Sewol law yesterday in the midst of a prolonged political gridlock that has nearly paralyzed all parliamentary activities for almost four months.
“The floor leaders from the Saenuri Party and the New Politics Alliance for Democracy had a meeting this afternoon and talked on a broad scale [about the terms of the special law] based on the second agreement they drew up [last month],” Kim Young-keun, an NPAD spokesman, said a briefing yesterday.
Kim added that Saenuri floor leader Lee Wan-koo and NPAD floor leader Park Young-sun will hold a meeting either today or over the weekend in yet another attempt to hash out an agreement on the specifics of the bill.
The meeting yesterday came amid growing calls from the ruling party that the main opposition separate bills unrelated to the contentious special law, intended to get to the bottom of the cause of the Sewol ferry sinking in April and the government’s bungled rescue efforts.
The NPAD has refused to hold an assembly vote on those bills until it reaches a compromise with the ruling Saenuri Party on the terms of the special Sewol law.
There are currently 87 pending bills stuck in limbo, according to the count given at yesterday’s briefing. The ruling party has continued to describe those proposals as necessary for improving the public’s livelihood, and the government also hopes the bills will give a much-needed boost to what it sees as a largely stagnant economy.
However, the opposition has scoffed at that categorization, going so far as to claim most of the proposals are not, in fact, related to the public’s well-being.
The failure on the part of both sides to compromise on the special law has raised questions over whether lawmakers could hold a plenary session next Monday to vote on the tabled bills and begin reviewing the government’s budget plans for 2015.
The parties actually reached compromises on the Sewol law’s terms twice in August, though the NPAD reneged on both agreements after fierce protests from the relatives of the teenagers killed in the accident.
The drawn out political gridlock has also prompted ruling party lawmakers to demand the National Assembly speaker use his authority to call on a vote for the dozens of marooned bills - calls that drew immediate protest from the opposition.
No bills have been passed by the Assembly since May 2.
BY KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]