DP, LKP take fast-track battle to the prosecution

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DP, LKP take fast-track battle to the prosecution

An ongoing legislative feud over fast-tracking contentious bills on electoral and judicial reform has spiraled into a legal dispute as rival parties filed complaints against one another for allegedly inciting violence at the National Assembly.

On Monday, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) delivered a second complaint to prosecutors on 19 lawmakers of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) for obstructing public duties at the legislature, bringing the total number of LKP legislators it reported to law enforcement to 29.

Last Friday, the DP filed a complaint against 18 LKP lawmakers - eight of whom were cited again in the second document - after the LKP attempted to physically block the DP and its three allied parties from submitting the bills to the legislature’s secretariat and special committees on political and judicial reforms tasked with reviewing the proposals. In this process, according to DP floor leader Rep. Hong Young-pyo, the LKP committed “unfathomable violence” that desecrated parliamentary law.

The LKP fired back by filing a complaint about 15 DP lawmakers on Friday for responding to their boycott with similar violence. One of the contentious bills would change the electoral system, and the others are on reforming law enforcement, including the creation of an independent investigative agency dedicating to probing senior public servants. They were packaged together as part of a compromise between the DP and three minor opposition parties to fast-track their passage through the legislature. The LKP, which fiercely opposes the bills, formed human barricades to keep the Assembly’s special committees from opening.

This, as well as heavy infighting in the DP’s key partner, the Bareunmirae Party (BP), has prevented the DP from fast-tracking the bills, which would ensure they are voted on within 330 days. After days of arguments, the BP emerged on Monday with a new proposal to submit its own bill on the independent investigative agency. BP floor leader Rep. Kim Kwan-young has demanded the DP accept the bill as a precondition for its support for the fast-tracking process for the set of bills.

The BP’s bill proposes that the agency focus on only corruption-related crimes committed by high-ranking officials. Kim said his party’s bill also suggests creating another committee to review targets to indict by the agency in order to stop the new body from exercising its indictment authority unchecked.

On Monday afternoon, the DP agreed to include the BP’s new bill in the fast-track plan along with the other bills. The BP’s bill is aimed at placating BP dissidents who have been averse to cooperating with the ruling party. Hong also added in an internal party meeting that the four parties would again try Monday evening to fast-track the bills, though the confrontation with the LKP delayed the results of this attempt until after press time.

If the LKP continues on its path, however, it may soon find itself the target of growing public criticism. A new poll released on Monday by Realmeter showed that 43.8 percent of respondents said the LKP’s attempts to obstruct the bills are the main culprit behind the legislative chaos, while only 33.1 percent put the blame on the DP for pushing through the bills.

Separately, a public petition on the Blue House website calling for the LKP to be dismantled garnered over half a million signatures as of Monday.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]
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