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DP spurs unilateral legislation procedures

Posted April. 19, 2024 07:47,   

Updated April. 19, 2024 07:47


The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DP) on Thursday put five bills, including a bill to stabilize agricultural prices and the bill on grain management, vetoed last year by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to a parliamentary plenary meeting. Gaining momentum by earning a landslide victory in the April 10 general elections, the DP seems intent on pushing forward with the introduction of controversial bills such as a special probe bill on the death of Marine Corps Corporal Chae Su-geun and a bill regarding those with distinguished contributions to democracy until the 21st National Assembly plenary session ends in a month. DP leadership even demanded a supplementary budget bill, which the party associates with the betterment of people’s livelihoods to put pressure on the government and the ruling party. The political circle interprets such a bold move as a preview of how the DP-controlled 22nd National Assembly works. The presidential office reacted carefully, saying, “We will decide on the following steps to take while reviewing negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties. Seemingly concerned about losing control of governance amid the growing influence of the opposition, the administration appears to keep the loss of the general elections in mind.

DP lawmakers of the parliamentary committee for agriculture, food, rural affairs, oceans, and fisheries held a plenary meeting to unilaterally pass five bills, including the revision on grain management, the bill regarding the stabilization of agricultural prices, and a revised bill concerning the support of the victims of the sinking of the Sewol Ferry with the committee’s PPP members absent. These bills were handed over mainly by the opposition party to the National Assembly’s legislation and judiciary committee this February. As per the National Assembly Act, a bill submitted to the committee in question may be put directly to a parliamentary plenary meeting with three-fifths or more of the incumbent committee members in favor unless it is deliberated within 60 days from submission. In Thursday’s meeting, 12 members, including 11 DP lawmakers and Yoon Mee-hyang, former DP member and current non-partisan assemblywoman, voted for the bills without any PPP member present. The opposition party is scheduled to open a plenary meeting of the National Policy Committee next Tuesday to vote on a revised bill for the Franchise Business Act and the bill regarding those with distinguished contributions to democracy, both of which the ruling party opposes, so that they can be sent directly to a parliamentary plenary meeting.

The DP seems to continue to take aggressive action to pass the controversial bills until the 21st parliamentary session ends late next month. “We only ended up with public criticism when we kept negotiating with the ruling party rather than hurrying forward at the beginning of the 21st National Assembly,” Rep. Lim O-kyeong, the DP’s floor spokesperson, said on Thursday. “We are determined not to repeat mistakes. Whatever it takes to improve people’s livelihoods, we will act aggressively.”

Added to this, DP leadership pressed the government to plan a supplementary budget to hand out a subsidy for the recovery of people’s livelihoods to every citizen as suggested by DP leader Lee Jae-myung. “It is the time that both the ruling and opposition parties put their heads together to secure a supplementary budget for the sake of economic recovery and stability of people’s livelihoods,” Hong Ihk-pyo, the opposition’s floor leader, said at a policy coordination meeting.

An insider of the presidential office said that it is citizens who determined the election results, expressing concerns about the opposition party only trying to increase its political influence. “The last thing we want is that the legislative body has a great influence on the administration,” the official said worryingly. Regarding the DP-led push for introducing the controversial bills, another source said that it is too early to discuss whether the president will veto them, expecting that reconsideration will be requested with various opinions collected and considered.

안규영 기자 kyu0@donga.com