Park blasts NPAD over pending economic bills

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Park blasts NPAD over pending economic bills

President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday questioned the political integrity of the main opposition party, reminding its lawmakers that economic bills deadlocked at the legislature for its rejection were once the pet projects of the past liberal administration.

On the eve of the final day of the last regular session of the 19th National Assembly, the president directly attacked the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) for obstructing the passage of a series of economic bills.

“The ruling and opposition parties agreed to discuss bills on labor market reform, but no progress has been made despite the fact that one week has passed since the agreement,” Park said at a morning Cabinet meeting.

“They also promised to pass a framework on service industry development, a special law to boost business revitalization, a terrorism prevention bill and North Korea human rights bill during the regular session, but those are still pending at the standing committees.”

She went on to specifically discuss the bill to establish a framework for the service industry in a lengthy criticism toward the NPAD.

“Past governments, including the Roh Moo-hyun administration, announced several measures to improve the competitiveness of the service industry, including the education and medical industries, and pushed forward policies to boost those sectors,” Park said. “But the NPAD is now delaying its passage by insisting that the medical and health fields should be excluded from the law. The NPAD passionately pushed forward this policy when it was the ruling party, but now it is opposing it. How can this be interpreted as an innocent objection?”

The law, she added, would have created 700,000 new jobs if it had been passed several years ago, and many young people would have benefited it.

“The measures to improve competition in the service sector announced by the Roh government clearly included the health and medical industries, and Roh emphasized this in his New Year’s address,” Park said. “But the NPAD is demanding that the health and medical sectors be excluded from the law. How should we interpret this?”

Since Park took the office in 2013, the administration has presented four major bills to boost the economy. In addition to the framework act for the service industry, the government has sought to revise the laws governing the medical industry and tourism and establish a bill to promote the global medical business.

While the National Assembly passed the tourism bill and the global medical business bill last week, the remaining two are still pending, as the NPAD insisted that they could completely privatize the country’s tightly controlled medical industry.

Park also pressured the National Assembly to pass a package of five bills intended to overhaul the rigid labor market. “Advanced countries are competing to reform labor markets to create high-quality jobs, but our country is insisting on an obsolete structure and refusing to reform, compromising the future of the country and our young people,” Park said. “If the National Assembly fails to pass these bills ? although it talks about jobs all the time ? the it will backfire in the form of public disappointment and rage.”

Park subsequently appealed to lawmakers to set aside their personal interests and focus on public welfare.

“Stimulating the service industry is not an issue … of ideology. This is an issue regarding the people’s lives and the sole goal is to create jobs,” she said.

The president’s remarks were her latest appeal to the legislature to pass key economic bills.

On Monday, Park also met with ruling Saeuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung and floor leader Won Yoo-chul to reiterate her case.

But while she publicly criticized the NPAD, the spokesman for the Blue House said the president has no plans to meet with opposition leaders.

“The Park administration, compared to other administrations, has met frequently with opposition leaders,” he said. “The president has already met with them twice this year and sought their cooperation.”

The deputy floor leaders of both parties met Tuesday to resume legislative activities, though no progress was made. Saenuri Party floor leaders visited National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa later Tuesday to request he use his power to introduce the bills for a vote, in particular, the anti-terrorism bill.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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