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Opposition Parties Call for Cabinet Resignations

Posted May. 31, 2008 03:15,   


Three opposition parties, the United Democratic Party, the Liberty Forward Party and the Democratic Labor Party, upped their offensive against the government Friday, calling for the resignation of all Cabinet members as a way to take responsibility for the ongoing controversy over the resumption of U.S. beef imports.

The floor leaders and policy chiefs of the three parties met at the National Assembly on Friday and came up with a series of countermeasures against the government’s unilateral decision to go ahead with U.S. beef imports.

They urged President Lee Myung-bak to hold an emergency meeting with the three opposition party leaders on his arrival from China.

They also filed for a court injunction and petitioned the Constitutional Court to invalidate the formal posting of the sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) notification, and plan to file administrative litigation to confirm its nullification on June 2.

“The public notification violates the nation’s sovereign right to quarantine U.S. beef and infringes on the public’s basic right to pursue their health and physical safety and purchase whatever they want. All these rights are enshrined in the Constitution,” they argued in the petition.

In a related move, opposition party members held a rally to denounce the formal notification of U.S. beef imports and urge the renegotiation of the beef deal at the National Assembly, and demanded the government suspend publication of the SPS rules in the government gazette. They also warned that if their demands were not met, they would not cooperate in the National Assembly.

“President Lee has given up being a leader for the public. Though it’s late, Lee should nullify the public notification and engage in renegotiation of the beef deal with the United States,” they urged in a joint statement.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries decided to establish a joint council with private sectors in an attempt to clear public fears over the safety of U.S. beef. The ministry plans to have the council observe the quarantine inspection on U.S. beef.

“In June, we will set up a council for the safety of agricultural products joined by ministry officials, including the minister, vice-minister, and other working-level officials, and relevant figures from private sectors such as consumer organizations, academia, and food manufacturers. And we will push for measures to secure food safety,” said the ministry.

The council, comprised of 20 to 30 members, is expected to deal with issues involving food safety and seek solutions if any problem is detected.

“The council will focus on encouraging consumer organizations’ active participation to give the public the opportunity to directly inspect all food production processes from manufacturing to consumption,” said a ministry official.

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