Campaign seeks to push Assembly

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Campaign seeks to push Assembly

President Park Geun-hye participated in a public signature drive on Monday to pressure the National Assembly to pass a series of economic and labor reform bills.

“In order to save our economy and counter growing terror threats, economic lobbies and civic groups have reportedly launched a drive to collect 10 million signatures to urge the National Assembly to pass delayed bills tied to the people’s livelihood,” Park said. “I will join the signature drive with the people.”

Her remarks came during a meeting with six government ministries to outline their plans for the year at Pangyo Techno Valley, an industrial complex in southern Gyeonggi.

Following the briefing session, Park visited a signature-collection booth near Pangyo Station in Gyeonggi to sign the petition.

“I am extremely frustrated that the passage has been delayed despite my appeals,” she said. “I can only imagine the desperation felt within the country’s [business community], so I’ve come here to join this movement.”

The signature drive, organized by 38 economic lobbies, including the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was launched Wednesday in response to the president’s televised address to the nation. During her TV appearance, Park urged the National Assembly to pass pending economic bills, labor market reform measures as well as an anti-terrorism bill.

According to Blue House spokesman Jung Young-kuk, signature booths have been set up nationwide, and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry is collecting signatures online.

Park also issued yet another criticism toward the National Assembly on Monday for its hesitation in approving key economic bills. “Because the National Assembly failed to perform its role, the people are stepping up to correct the situation,” she said.

The Korean economy does not have luxury of time, she continued, urging that the economic bills and labor market reforms be passed as soon as possible.

During her national address and press conference Wednesday, Park appealed to the public to pressure the legislature to pass the bills. She also offered a compromise to the opposition bloc, pushing for four out of the five labor market reform bills to be approved first, while withholding the most contentious bill.

The ruling and opposition parties held negotiations on the compromise, though no progress was made.

Park’s associates told the JoongAng Ilbo that her decision to join the signature drive was intended to apply pressure on the legislature.

“She asked the Assembly to pass just four of the five labor reform bills, but the legislature isn’t budging,” a presidential official said. “She is now making a direct appeal to the people.”

The anti-terrorism bill currently pending at the legislature, Park added Monday, is just as urgent a matter, especially for public safety.

“This year alone, terrorist attacks have spread globally, from Turkey to Indonesia and then Burkina Faso,” the president said. “But it is our reality that we cannot share information with the international community to prevent terrorism. This is absolutely nonsense.”

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