Audit committee continues to argue

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Audit committee continues to argue

Ruling and opposition parties continued their wrangling into the second day of a parliamentary audit over whether to summon major business owners for questioning, which led to the cancelation of the parliamentary Environment and Labor Committee’s meeting in the first half of the day.

The disruption yesterday occurred after committee members failed to narrow down who they should call in as witnesses for the ongoing inspection.

However, the inspection into the Ministry of Employment and Labor at the Sejong Government Complex kicked off at 2:30 p.m. yesterday as planned when opposition lawmakers returned to the table, saying they would not pursue further negotiations on whether to call in conglomerate chairmen as witnesses.

“We will resume the audit meeting because the Saenuri has not shown any signs that it will change its position,” said Rep. Lee In-young, a member of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), while also stressing that it did not mean that the opposition had accepted the ruling party’s calls to exclude the businessmen from questioning.

At the center of the dispute is whether the committee should summon Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee.

The NPAD has called for the major business moguls to be summoned so they can question them on a range of issues, mainly those addressing labor disputes at their companies, while the Saenuri Party has opposed the plan, arguing that it is not up to the National Assembly to intervene in labor disputes at individual business places.

The opposition criticized the Saenuri’s refusal to cooperate, saying it only seeks to represent the interest of chaebol groups, while the ruling party’s stance was mostly echoed by senior members from both sides yesterday morning.

“We need to be careful in calling in business owners at a time when the national economy is struggling,” Saenuri floor leader Lee Wan-koo said.

The NPAD’s interim Chairman Moon Hee-sang countered Lee’s remark, however, saying lawmakers should be able to call business owners in hundreds if it was deemed necessary. “Though lawmakers should not call in entrepreneurs just for the sake of giving them a hard time, the ruling and opposition parties should be able to if it’s necessary [for the inspection],” he said.

NPAD lawmakers on the committee have requested 36 business owners to be questioned. The parliamentary audit ends on Oct. 27.

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


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