The Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee (UFTC) of the National Assembly passed a ratification motion on rice tariff negotiations and submitted it to a plenary session after the committees chairman exercised his maintenance of order powers yesterday.
The National Assembly is scheduled to address the ratification motion at a plenary meeting on November 16.
After ruling Uri Party and main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) lawmakers belonging to the UFTC entered the UFTC conference room under National Assembly employees escort around at 9:10 a.m. yesterday amid Democratic Labor Party (DLP) officials protests, they introduced the motion before the committee and passed it by with the agreement of both parties in just 10 minutes.
Right after the passage of the motion, UFTC chairman Lim Chae-jung from the ruling Uri Party said, We sincerely understand farmers pain, but we had no choice but to pass the motion in a bid to promote things that should be implemented this year out of those agreed from rice negotiations.
GNP lawmaker Park Gye-dong, who serves as an UFTCs executive secretary, said, The GNP has agreed to pass the motion because if the ratification motion is not passed within this year, Koreas rice market will face tariffs.
Meanwhile, DLP lawmakers Chun Young-se, Kwon Young-ghil, Roh Hoe-chan and their aides clashed with National Assembly employees who were deployed to counter a possible brawl around at 8:55 a.m. yesterday in an attempt to go into the UFTCs meeting room to block the passage of the motion.
After the passage of the motion before the UFTC, the DLP expressed its stance that it would obstruct handling the motion at a plenary session and file a competence dispute suit on the ratification motion and a preliminary injunction against executing it with the Constitutional Court.
Meanwhile, farm groups showed their strong opposition to yesterdays passage, hinting at massive rallies and a movement to replace the Roh administration.
The Emergency Measures Committee for Blocking the Ratification Motion (EMCBRM), which consists of seven farm groups, including the National Farmers Association, held an emergency press conference in front of the National Assembly Building yesterday morning, saying, Given DLP lawmakers failure to go into the committee room, we cannot accept the passage of the motion, adding, We will hold massive protests as well as promote a movement against the Roh administration.
Kang Min-su, the manager of EMCBRM, said, Farmers lives have been menaced due to the rough-and ready passage of the motion, adding, We plan to stage a general strike in about 100 cities and counties from across the country at the same time on October 28 and hold a massive rally that will be attended by a total of 300,000 farmers in Seoul on November 21.