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(LEAD) Minor party urges lawmakers to drop privileges

All News 18:08 June 09, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- Ahn Cheol-soo, co-chairman of the minor opposition People's Party, said Thursday South Korean lawmakers should make efforts to have less privilege, adding that the new National Assembly speaker should take the lead in responding to the public's demands.

"I hope that the new National Assembly speaker would establish a special committee that can draw up a plan on reducing the privileges of lawmakers," the businessman-turned-politician told Yonhap News Agency.

South Korea's main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea on Thursday picked six-term lawmaker Chung Sye-kyun as the National Assembly speaker, after reaching an agreement on parliamentary formation with the ruling party.

"Amid the rising public demand for fewer privileges for lawmakers, no single bill has been passed to this end," Ahn said. "There needs to be action. Only speaking about it is committing fraud against the people."

Ahn, the founder of the nation's largest anti-virus software firm Ahnlab Co., left the Minjoo Party of Korea, then called the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, following internal strife with Moon Jae-in.

Moon is a potential presidential candidate for next year's election.

Ahn has since kicked off the People's Party, which emerged as the No. 3 player in parliament by grabbing 38 seats in the April 13 polls.

"It is important to better adapt to the multiple-party system and seek better communication and compromise at the National Assembly. Without that, nothing will be achieved and no reform will gain trust from the people," the two-term lawmaker added.

Amid the on-going restructuring efforts made by the government for financially troubled shipbuilders, Ahn said it is vital for the authorities to punish those responsible for the crisis, adding South Korea should take a cue from stricter policies in the United States.

Related to the latest corruption allegation surrounding one of the party's lawmakers, Ahn said he will take a wait-and-look stance on the issue.

Prosecutors raided local advertisement companies Thursday over allegations that they gave illegal kickbacks to a People's Party lawmaker during the parliamentary elections.

The Seoul Western District Prosecutors' Office raided about six offices over suspicions that Rep. Kim Su-min illegally received some 178 million won (US$154,000) from the firms through forged contracts.

When asked if he is concerned over the latest rise of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a potential presidential candidate, Ahn declined to comment directly, but added it is important for the U.N. chief to do his duty till the end.

"It is up to him on what he should do after the term. I believe he will do things that will benefit South Korea," Ahn said.

During his visit to Seoul last month, Ban said he would "contemplate" what he would do as a South Korean citizen when he returns to his home country after completing his two terms as head of the international body at the end of this year.


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