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Prime Minister’s Reluctant Apology Predicts Second Round

Prime Minister’s Reluctant Apology Predicts Second Round

Posted November. 09, 2004 23:07,   


Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan made a public apology yesterday for his disparaging remarks about the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) that precipitated a National Assembly standoff, saying, “I am very sorry that the operation of the National Assembly, which should have covered a lot of pending issues around this time, has been crippled because of my remarks.”

In a statement that his chief public relations secretary, Lee Gang-jin, delivered in the government central complex Sejong-ro in Seoul, Prime Minister Lee showed his intention to apologize and added, “I admit that the remarks I made during the interpellation section last time were not appropriate. I sincerely apologize for them and hope to see the normalization of parliamentary operation as soon as possible.”

Even though the GNP decided to have it’s general meeting today to discuss Lee’s apology, it is reported that they have tentatively agreed to continue the current struggle against the ruling party after attending the National Assembly. However, since some members are expressing discontent over Lee’s apology, saying, “Lee ignored the opposition party and nation,” it is very likely that the party will have a difficult time in settling their reaction.

To questions on the reasons of his apology, Lee said, “The National Assembly speaker expressed his regret Monday, and the ruling Uri Party members asked me to make an apology first, yesterday,” adding, “I thought normalization of parliamentary operation is the first thing we have to do because budget bills and pending issues related to the people’s livelihood to be tackled are piling up, and a one-month diplomatic trip of the president will start from November 12.”

In addition, Lee said, “The participatory government will consult with the National Assembly in making policies sincerely, and promises to do everything in its power to make Korea a better-off society by activating the economy.

GNP spokesman Yim Tae-hee said, “Even though his apology is not sufficient enough in terms of content and processes, we accept his apology,” adding, “Our party’s reaction on this will be announced tomorrow after considering our members’ opinions at a meeting.”

GNP members have boycotted all assembly schedules and demanded President Roh Moo-hyun dismiss Prime Minister Lee since October 28 when Prime Minister Lee criticized the GNP at an interpellation section, saying, “The GNP is a party of bribes.”

Yeon-Wook Jung Yong-Gwan Jung jyw11@donga.com yongari@donga.com