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Parliament passes anti-terrorism bill

All Headlines 22:39 March 02, 2016

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ruling-party controlled parliament passed a long-stalled anti-terrorism bill Wednesday amid possible terror threats from North Korea.

The government-backed bill, which bypassed the normal process and was taken to the floor by the assembly speaker, passed through the National Assembly's plenary session by 156-1 with zero abstentions.

The ruling Saenuri Party controls 157 seats in the 293-member National Assembly, compared to 107 seats held by the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea which had staged a filibuster for more than a week to stall the bill's passage.

Since the first draft bill was filed with the National Assembly in November 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, no headway was made until now.

The bill was scrapped every time during previous parliaments due to concern over breaches of privacy such as allowing the National Intelligence Service (NIS), South Korea's top spy agency, to collect personal data on anyone suspected of posing a threat to national security.

Under the passed bill, an anti-terrorism center will be set up under the Prime Minister's Office, but the NIS will have the power to gather the relevant information on possible terrorists.

The bill has recently gained new momentum following North Korea's nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

President Park Geun-hye repeatedly expressed concerns on possible terror attacks, urging bipartisan cooperation for the endorsement of the bill meant to better protect the lives of South Koreans.

khj@yna.co.kr
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