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Parliament to Use Security Forces for FTA Motion Review

Posted December. 18, 2008 07:26,   


The National Assembly for the first time invoked its right to use security forces in its building yesterday, a day prior to reviewing a motion on ratifying the free trade agreement with the United States.

Park Jin, chairman of the Assembly`s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee, said, “The right to use security forces has been invoked to prevent physical intervention on the submission of the FTA motion, which the main opposition Democratic Party said it would take.”

As a result, only members of the committee can enter the Assembly’s conference hall until its general meeting ends today. Anyone who disobeys the order will face the charge of obstruction of justice.

“It’s a matter that should be settled through discussion. It’s absurd to think that it can be deterred by physical means,” said Hwang Jin-ha, the ruling Grand National Party’s chief negotiator for the committee. “Even at the cost of exercising the right to use security forces, we have to ensure that the meeting proceeds.”

At yesterday’s joint meeting with its supreme council members and lawmakers belonging to the committee, the Democratic Party decided to pass the motion for the agreement’s ratification within 30 days at the Assembly once the new U.S. administration submits a motion on the accord.

“Having passed next year’s budget bill, the ruling party seems ready to wage war,” said Moon Hak-jin, the Democratic Party’s chief negotiator for the committee. “If the ruling party chooses war, it leaves us with no option.”

In preparation for physical clashes at today’s meeting, the Democratic Party replaced party leader Chung Sye-kyun and Shin Nak-kyun, who are members of the committee, with Kim Yung-rok and Kim Woo-nam.

If the ruling party pushes to lay the motion before the Assembly today, its rival plans to resort to force, including scuffling and occupying the podium.

Both leaders of the two parties are not budging from their stances.

On the handling of controversial bills, ruling party floor leader Hong Joon-pyo told a joint meeting, “To make the people fully aware that the administration has changed, we should swiftly pass them.”

Having witnessed the ruling party unilaterally pass the 2009 budget bill, leaders of the opposition party, including its chairman Chung and floor leader Won Hye-young, dare not mention “dialogue and negotiations.”

“If leaders show a moderate approach once again, hardliners including the Democratic Coalition could demand their replacement,” said a senior official of the Democratic Party. “Since there is strong discontent against the leadership, they cannot help but take a hard-line stance.”

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