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Ruling party starts legal review to dismiss a leftist lawmaker

Ruling party starts legal review to dismiss a leftist lawmaker

Posted September. 03, 2013 06:26,   


The ruling Saenuri Party has initiated a review process to expel Rep. Lee Seok-ki of the far-leftist United Progressive Party who is suspected of treason, from the National Assembly on Monday. Separately from the bill on arresting Lee to pass the National Assembly this week, it plans to dismiss him from the membership of the National Assembly. The ruling party began its own review process to submit a request on screening his qualification as a lawmaker to the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Ethics.

The party’s Supreme Council ordered its legal counsel in a confidential meeting Monday to review whether it is possible to submit a request which can screen Rep. Lee’s qualification as a lawmaker. The party leadership is said to have mentioned “a challenge to democracy” as a rationale behind the bill. It intends to go ahead with the qualification screening process at the National Assembly by defining Rep. Lee as a figure who categorically denies free democracy, although he is suspected of treason currently.

“Professors say that a qualification can be screened based on a challenge to democracy,” a key party source said in an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo over the phone, adding, “It was mentioned to be on the safe side because a treason charge can lead to a legal dispute.” The source said, “We plan to monitor the public opinion carefully. Once the legal review is over, we will submit the request (on dismissing Rep. Lee) to the Special Committee on Ethics.”

According to the National Assembly Act, 30 or more lawmakers should make a request to the Special Committee on Ethics and two-thirds or more members should agree on the request in a plenary session. If both ruling and opposition parties agree on dismissing Rep. Lee, he will be the first in 34 years since former President Kim Young-sam was deprived of his membership of the National Assembly in 1979 when he was serving as an opposition party leader. In addition, Lee will be the first who is struck off from the National Assembly for a “challenge to democracy” since the foundation of Korea.

The ruling party leadership have reportedly ordered party members in the meeting to find out whether the United Progressive Party can be disbanded or not and obtain the list of key data, which the far-left party requested to the government. “Some said that Germany decided to disband a party twice,” a ruling party source said, adding, “It was said that the party’s policy committee should respond appropriately to the data that the United Progressive Party obtained.”

“When the request on Rep. Lee comes over to the Special Committee on Ethics, I’ll immediately take care of it,” said Jang Yoon-seok of the ruling party, the chairman of the Special Committee on Ethics. “I’ll expedite the process to safeguard the Constitution and the National Assembly (from the pro-North Korea group).”

“It will take quite a long legal process going forward, but it is not acceptable to allow an unqualified person to serve as a lawmaker for a long time,” Jang said. “I think it is right (to deprive him of the membership of the National Assembly) through an internal parliamentary process even before the legal process ends.” He also said, “I have asked both ruling and opposition party assistant administrators to arrange a general meeting of the Special Committee on Ethics (regarding the qualification screening of Rep. Lee and Rep. Kim Jae-yeon of the United Progressive Party who were allegedly related to the corruption scandal in proportionate representation).”