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(4th LD) Park vetoes controversial parliamentary law revision

All Headlines 22:39 June 25, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with details)

SEOUL, June 25 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Thursday vetoed a parliamentary bill designed to empower the National Assembly to challenge government enactment, denouncing it as the assembly's encroachment on administrative rights.

"The parliamentary revision bill is something that aims to infringe upon judicial power and meddle in all administrative affairs of the government," Park said as she rejected signing the bill into law in a Cabinet meeting. "It is a matter the past governments did not accept."

The revision bill, passed through the assembly in late May, had been a major irritation to Park, who has been seeking to contain the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, as well as the economic fallout from its outbreak.

The bill, intended to allow more power to lawmakers to review and change government-enacted rules, had been brought up for Park's approval earlier this month in spite of her pledge to veto it.

"The exercise of veto power was inevitable because (the bill) is something that paralyzes the administrative service and risks national crisis," she noted.

She also reasserted the unconstitutionality of the bill, saying it encroaches on the government's legislative power and judiciary rights, as well as the constitutionally assured separation of legal, administrative and judicial powers.

It's Park's first use of veto power since she took office in 2013, although there have been 72 presidential vetoes since the launch of the Rhee Syng-man administration in 1948.

The government has sent a request for reconsideration of the bill to the National Assembly, according to the Ministry of Government Legislation. The bill will automatically be scrapped if political parties do not introduce it at the plenary session.

In anger, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy threatened to boycott parliamentary sessions.

"One of the three pillars in the separation of three powers has just crumbled down," NPAD floor leader Lee Jong-kul said. "The parliamentary speaker should table the reconsideration bill to begin with. Before the process, all the negotiations with the ruling party are suspended."

The ruling Saenuri Party, however, took a cautious tone, with party chief Kim Moo-sung saying they "decided to respect the president's inevitable choice made on the grounds of unconstitutionality."

Following a five-hour meeting, the ruling party decided not to re-endorse the bill, taking a step toward dumping the agenda altogether.

In the Cabinet meeting earlier in the day, Park also slammed the National Assembly for dragging its feet in passing economy-related bills.

"It's questionable what kinds of parliamentary cooperation the ruling party's floor leadership has sought for the government's economic recovery drive," she noted.

Her remarks were apparently directed at Saenuri floor leader Yoo Seong-min, who led negotiations with the NPAD for the parliamentary passage of the revision bill together with the ruling party-led approval of a bill to reform the pension system for public employees.

Yoo apologized for communications lapses with the presidential office, but spurned calls by some pro-Park lawmakers asking him to step down, saying that he will discuss with party members ways to mend ties with the presidential office.


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