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Roh Vetoes Special Counsel Bill

Posted July. 22, 2003 21:39,   


President Roh Moo-hyun vetoed Tuesday an opposition-submitted bill to reopen the investigation into the North Korea payoff scandal. The rejected bill will be sent back to the National Assembly for another deliberation. It is the first presidential veto in 15 years on a National Assembly-passed bill.

The enactment of a bill requires the two-thirds majority votes with the half of all representatives of the National Assembly attending. The opposition-submitted bill is likely to be automatically abolished when the 16th National Assembly special session ends on May 29 next year because the Grand National Party that controls the parliament vowed not to resubmit a special counsel bill.

As a result of the presidential veto on a special counsel bill, the prosecutor will speed up its investigation into the 1.5 billion won ($13 million) that former presidential chief of staff Park Ji-won allegedly accepted in kickbacks from Hyundai in April 2000.

President Roh said during a cabinet meeting held at Cheong Wa Dae in Tuesday morning, “I think it is inappropriate to reopen a probe led by another special counsel into the bribery case involving the former presidential chief of staff because the previous investigation led by independent counsel Song Doo-hwan carried out almost its mission unveiling enough information on the case. Initially, I had promised to accept a bill limiting the scope of an investigation only into the 1.5 billion won ($13 million) Park Ji-won allegedly accepted in kickbacks. With the ruling and opposition parties failing to reach an agreement on a special counsel bill, I reached a conclusion that vetoing the politically motivated special counsel bill is a right thing for president.”

The main opposition GNP issued a comment through spokesperson Kim Young-sun criticizing, “The President`s veto on the special counsel bill passed by the parliament demonstrates that the president disregarded respective independence of the three powers and denied his own rightfulness as head of government.”

Meanwhile, ruling Democratic Millennium Party`s spokesperson Moon Seok-ho said, “It is quite laudable for the president to veto the bill, which would have apparently provoked North Korea amid the escalating tension on the Korean peninsula over the nuclear issue.”

Jeong-Hun Kim Yeon-Wook Jung jnghn@donga.com jyw11@donga.com