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National Assembly Delays Troop Dispatch Vote for the Second Time

National Assembly Delays Troop Dispatch Vote for the Second Time

Posted March. 28, 2003 22:16,   


The National Assembly delayed for the second time a floor vote to be held March 25 with the aim of sending non-combatant troops to Iraq, because 71 lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties demanded a meeting of the Committee to deliberate on the troop dispatch bill prior to a scheduled parliamentary plenary session.

As a result of the request of the lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties, National Assembly Speaker Park Kwan-young on the same day convened a parliamentary session and presented the government’s troop dispatch bill and an amendment bill calling for the exclusion of engineer battalions presented by Ruling Party Lawmaker Kim Kyung-jae. The speaker then convened a two-day meeting of the committee as a whole.

At the meeting, which was held for the first time since the revision of the National Assembly Law in February 2000, 13 lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties engaged in a heated debated over the troop dispatch bill with Defense Minister Choi Young-kil and Vice Foreign Minister Kim Jae-sup attending.

“With most of the lawmakers supporting the troop dispatch, President Roh Moo-hyun should directly persuade the public first not to oppose the passage of the bill,” said opposition Grand National Party Rep. Sim Jae-chul. However, Chung Kyun-whan, a lawmaker of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party expressed his opposition to the government motion by saying, “The government should not send Korean troops to war without justification.”

In the morning, Rep. Chung Kyun-whan and Rep. Lee Q-tak, floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties, met to discuss parliamentary proceedings for the troop dispatch bill, but failed to narrow their differences.

The MDP floor leader said, “It is desirable to convene a parliamentary session on March 31 to have a vote on the troop dispatch bill.” In response, however, the opposition party’s floor leader said, “The GNP lawmakers have decided whether to vote on the bill after President Roh’s address before the National Assembly scheduled for April 2.”

Given the current developments, a floor vote on the troop dispatch bill in the National Assembly is likely to be held as early as April 2.

The revised National Assembly Law that was carried out in 2000 allowed lawmakers to deliberate on a bill at the parliamentary plenary session, instead of at a meeting of the standing committees. Deliberation on a bill at the parliamentary session is designed to avoid tilting the balance of the deliberation on bills toward parliamentary standing committees.

Under the revised parliamentary law, bills pertaining to government organizations, taxes and bills that place a burden on citizens are the subject of a deliberation at a meeting of the committee that requires more than one quarter of the total votes for all lawmakers to be held for two days and two hours every day.

The Committee does not have the right to block a bill from being presented at the National Assembly, but is allowed to present an amendment bill. Vote on a bill at the Committee meeting require over one-fourth attendance of all lawmakers and a majority vote among attending lawmakers.

The committee was established based on a National Assembly Law in October 1948. Since then, it has been held five times. However, relevant provisions for the committee were abolished when the National Assembly Law was revised in September 1960.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com