NPAD boycotts plenary session

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NPAD boycotts plenary session

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As opposition NPAD lawmakers boycott the National Assembly sessions yesterday, ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers wait for the opening of the plenary session in the main hall. Assembly Speaker Chung Eui-hwa convened the plenary session at his discretion, but dismissed it in 10 minutes after the opposition lawmakers didn’t show up. [NEWS1]


The National Assembly managed to hold a plenary session yesterday but it closed in less than 10 minutes after lawmakers from the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) refused to show up.

Chung Eui-hwa, the Assembly speaker, announced the next attempt to break the legislative paralysis over a special law to investigate the sinking of the Sewol ferry would be in another such session on Tuesday.

“The leadership of the NPAD yesterday made a request to postpone the plenary session by several days so that it could gather opinions from party members over the weekend and straighten out its stance,” Chung said. “We will convene a plenary session again on Sept. 30, confident in the NPAD’s genuine intent.”

The session yesterday was intended to pass 90 bills that have been stuck as the two rival parties failed to find middle ground in regard to the Sewol law. While the NPAD boycotted the session yesterday, 153 lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party filled the seats, meeting the quorum for the passage of bills.

Saenuri lawmakers instantly protested Chung’s closing of the session, some deciding to issue a collective resolution to demand he step down to take responsibility for his “arbitrary proceedings” as speaker.

“It is humiliating for the National Assembly to acknowledge a person who is not properly performing his role as the leader who is supposed to faithfully follow legislative procedures,” Lee Jang-woo, a floor spokesman of the party, said.

He called on all Saenuri lawmakers to submit the resolution.

Some outraged Saenuri lawmakers said they wanted to “cut off their fingers” for voting for Chung.

The Saenuri floor leader, Lee Wan-koo, also briefly caused a stir by saying he would resign from his post over the comedic and deplorable situation at the Assembly.

“It is something that I never expected,” he said right after Chung announced the closing of the plenary session. “I did my best, but I will withdraw from the floor leader position, replying to what has happened.”

The veteran politician was probably threatening to quit to put psychological pressure on both the NPAD, which is set to hold a general meeting over the weekend, and Speaker Chung. Saenuri leader Kim Moo-sung rejected his resignation.

With the delay of the plenary session by four days, the prospect of a parliamentary inspection of the government offices kicking off on schedule on Oct. 1 has turned bleak.

“The Assembly inspection starting on Oct. 1 is a physical impossibility,” said one opposition lawmaker. “It would be realistic to push the schedule to mid-October or as late as December.”

NPAD lawmakers have adopted the demand of the families of victims of the ferry disaster that an investigattive committee created by the special Sewol law be empowered to probe and indict those responsible for the accident.

President Park Geun-hye and her party rejected that demand, saying that would breach the separation of powers as dictated by the Korean Constitution.


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

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