Go to contents

Violence Erupts over FTA Ratification Motion

Posted December. 19, 2008 08:24,   


The ruling and opposition parties yesterday violently clashed over the submission of the free trade agreement with the United States to parliament.

With security forces posted in front of a Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee room to preserve order, committee members from the ruling Grand National Party put the motion before parliament to begin the ratification process.

Scores of lawmakers and members of the main opposition Democratic Party and the progressive Democratic Labor Party scuffled with security officials, with some using hammers, power saws and fire extinguishers to open the committee room door.

After the motion was laid before parliament, dozens of Democratic Party lawmakers occupied the office of National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o and launched an indefinite strike.

Committee chairman Park Jin presented the motion at 2 p.m. to the plenary meeting and sent it to the deliberation subcommittee.

“The right to preserve order invoked to prevent violence has been trampled on,” said Park while convening the meeting. “I introduce the planned motion on the parliamentary agenda at the hour arranged to duly convene the standing committee.”

Only 10 committee members from the ruling party attended the meeting: Chung Mong-joon, Nam Kyung-pil, Chung Jin-suk, Hwang Jin-ha, Kim Choong-whan, Lee Choon-sik, Gu Sang-chan, Chung Ok-nim and Hong Jung-wook.

At a meeting of party lawmakers, ruling party floor leader Hong Joon-pyo expressed his determination to railroad pending bills through parliament if a consensus was not reached, saying “All pending bills will be settled in this extra parliamentary session.”

Democratic Party floor leader Won Hye-young told a meeting of party lawmakers, “With the ruling party declaring war, parliament has degenerated into a battlefield where law and due process are being ignored.”

The minor conservative Liberty Forward Party, which wants to protect those who will suffer from the agreement before ratification, declared a boycott against the ratification process. It called the motion void because it was submitted to parliament ahead of schedule.

The party, however, said it will collaborate in passing other bills, saying “The trade agreement and the standing committee’s legislative work are separate matters.”