Gov’t, Saenuri agree on Coast Guard’s dissolution
The government and the ruling Saenuri Party yesterday reaffirmed their position regarding their previous plan to disband the Korea Coast Guard, a decision that was made as a follow-up response to the sinking of the Sewol ferry.
The accident on April 16, the country’s worst maritime disaster, left more than 300 people dead or missing.
The abolition of the Coast Guard is part of a draft revision to a government structure bill that Rep. Kim Jae-won, the deputy floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, the minister and deputy minister of public administration and security, and a few ruling party lawmakers finalized yesterday at the National Assembly.
The National Emergency Management Agency, another independent body, will also be scrapped under yesterday’s agreement.
The pursuit of an overhaul in government structure comes after lawmakers reached a consensus in the aftermath of the Sewol accident that the country needed a uniform authority to tackle national disasters.
In a nationally televised address on May 19, President Park Geun-hye announced that the government would disband the Korea Coast Guard and the National Emergency Management Agency, which she blamed for botching rescue operations after the Sewol ferry capsized.
Under the draft, the coast guard’s right to investigate will be transferred to the National Police Agency, which has so far been responsible for crimes and accidents on land, while its right to embark on initial investigations will be relayed to an oceans safety headquarters under a national safety body to be established under the Prime Minister’s Office.
The National Emergency Management Agency will also be absorbed by the new safety body, whose English name has yet to be confirmed.
Even though the government and the ruling party succeeded in building a consensus on the draft, negotiations with the opposition still remain.
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy has previously argued that both the Coast Guard and the National Emergency Management Agency should remain intact.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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