Go to contents

Signature Drive Begins for Vetoed Sejong City Bill

Posted June. 24, 2010 12:56,   


Ruling Grand National Party lawmakers loyal to President Lee Myung-bak began a signature collection drive Wednesday to put a revised bill on the Sejong City development plan to a full parliamentary vote.

The bill had been rejected the previous day by the parliamentary committee on land, transport and maritime affairs.

Forty-four lawmakers joined the signature campaign led by pro-Lee group member Yim Dong-gyu. The lawmakers supporting the revised bill will send it to the parliamentary plenary session for a vote.

Pro-Lee lawmakers based their action on Article 87 of the National Assembly Law, which stipulates that a bill vetoed by a parliamentary standing committee can be referred to the plenary session if more than 30 lawmakers demand so.

A rough road lies ahead, however, as opposition lawmakers and those loyal to former ruling party chairwoman Park Geun-hye oppose the move as “politics that refuse to yield.”

In the process, delicate changes are being felt not only within the pro-Lee group but also in the united front against the revised bill among the main opposition Democratic Party, the pro-Park group, and the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party.

○ Worried over backlash

Yim told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone, “The National Assembly Law guarantees a procedure to send a bill vetoed by a parliamentary standing committee to the plenary session, so we can deal with the revised the bill according to the procedure.”

Rep. Jin Su-hee, who signed the petition, said, “People who support the revised bill outnumber those who oppose it,” adding, “Reflecting such a situation, we want to put the bill to a full parliamentary vote to fulfill our moral duty to the people.”

Certain pro-Lee and neutral ruling party lawmakers, however, are urging caution in the motion to put the bill to a vote. They warn of the bill`s rejection if the opposition party and pro-Park lawmakers oppose, and that this will accelerate intra-party dispute and conflict between the ruling and opposition parties.

They also said such a reckless attempt can undermine the hard-won harmony between ruling party factions after the party’s humiliating defeat in the June 2 local elections.

Rep. Kim Sung-sik, who leads a group of reform-minded first-time lawmakers, said, “To promote the genuine intent of the revised bill, which is long-term national development, it should not be sent to the full parliamentary session.”

○ Pro-Park lawmakers not opposed to vote

While the pro-Park group has criticized the signature drive of the pro-Lee group, the former apparently does not oppose the referral of the bill to the full parliamentary session. This is because the move does not violate the National Assembly Law, though they do not agree with it.

This is where they differentiate themselves from the opposition, which has blasted the move, according to pro-Park lawmakers.

Instead, the pro-Park group will vote down the revised bill if it is put to a full parliamentary vote. They say a veto is possible if they join forces with opposition lawmakers.

Pro-Park lawmakers support the original Sejong City plan to decentralize government agencies, achieve balanced national development, and keep the government`s promise to the people, so there is no reason to avoid putting their decisions on “historical record” as argued by the pro-Lee group.

Rep. Lee Jung-hyun, a spokesman for Park, said, “We never considered following appropriate procedures regardless of putting the bill to a full parliamentary vote,” adding, “We will maintain our opposition to the revised bill by joining the vote.”

○ Opposition lawmakers banned from leaving the country

Main opposition Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun told a meeting of senior party members, “The veto by a parliamentary committee (Tuesday) is like the ruling party making an own goal,” adding, “The move to send the bill to the parliamentary plenary session will be akin to suffering a crushing defeat.”

The opposition party said that if the ruling party attempts to bring the revised bill to the main parliamentary session, it will not cooperate in handling other parliamentary tasks. The Democratic Party also ordered its lawmakers not to leave the country in case the ruling party puts the bill to a parliamentary vote.

The Democratic Party, however, said it will devise countermeasures after watching the situation unfold apparently based on the judgment that hasty action could reduce room to maneuver. It also reportedly considered a possible change to the situation based on the conflict between the pro-Lee and pro-Park factions.

kimkihy@donga.com surono@donga.com