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Bipartisan spat foils standing committees

Posted August. 01, 2000 19:15,   


The National Assembly standing committees failed to meet on August 1 due to a blockade by opposition Grand National Party lawmakers.

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party and the splinter United Liberal Democrats had planned to convene the Steering Committee and the Special Committee on Budget and Settlement to deliberate on a supplementary budget bill and an amendment to the Law on the Prevention of Discrimination Between Men and Women.

However, the opposition party members prevented the committees from convening, demanding the ruling party first apologize for the recent railroading of the revision bill of the National Assembly Law through the parliament and then nullify it. Earlier in the day, the GNP confirmed in a caucus of its lawmakers its desire to deter the unilateral operation of the House by the ruling party until a bipartisan agreement on the operational timetable of the House was reached and the ruling party apologized for the unilateral passage of the bill.

The opposition party leaders send their members to the conference rooms of the standing committees they are assigned to and blocked the panels` opening by force by occupying the chairmen`s seats.

There were no reports of physical clashes between the rival lawmakers in the process. GNP spokesman Rep. Kwon Chul-Hyun argued that it was the first time in the nation`s constitutional history that the ruling party, which passed an amendment to the National Assembly Law unilaterally, immediately pushed ahead with the unilateral operation of the House.

He said that the GNP would mobilize every means available to foil any scheme of the ruling party¡¯s to open the standing committees.

As a result, government ministers and officials could not help but waste about five hours at the National Assembly building, helplessly waiting for the opening of the House panels . They include Planning-Budget Minister Jin Nyum, Education Minister Moon Yong-Lin and Paek Kyung-Nam, chairwoman of the Special Women`s Affairs Committee.

In particular, Minister Jin protested to the floor leaders of the rival parties, saying that they had to allow the government officials to return to their offices to work, if the sessions were not held within the day.