Speaker Is Bitter Over Botched Bill

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Speaker Is Bitter Over Botched Bill

Facing stinging criticism from both the ruling and opposition camps over an aborted impeachment bill, National Assembly Speaker Lee Man-sup on Sunday said he felt outraged that he was being unfairly attacked.

"How can I express my distress," he said.

Responding to opposition calls to step down, the 68-year-old speaker said he "felt sadness that my integrity as speaker has been defiled."

But he also said that he was ready to face a vote of confidence. "I apologize to the public for not handling the impeachment bill. Both the ruling and opposition parties should have a cooling-off period and cooperate to move forward with scheduled parliamentary hearings," he said.

On Friday, in the middle of partisan wrangling over the impeachment bill, Mr. Lee, a ruling party member, vowed to use his legal authority to introduce the bill for a vote. The ruling party then denounced the speaker for not adhering to its party line.

He was physically barred from leaving his office Friday night by fellow lawmakers belonging to the ruling Millennium Democratic Party.

The opposition Grand National Party accused the speaker and the ruling party of stalling in order to cancel the bill, which under Korean law has to be addressed within 72 hours of its submission. The bill was formally submitted to the National Assembly for deliberation Wednesday.

Asked why he did not delegate authority to Hong Sa-duk, the vice speaker and a member of opposition party, he said he was trying to prevent a showdown between the two camps.

by Lee Sang-il

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