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(2nd LD) Political parties agree to normalize National Assembly operations

All Headlines 16:51 December 09, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with other bills in paras 6-8, Cheong Wa Dae official's meeting with new LKP floor leader in last 2 paras; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and two major opposition parties in South Korea agreed Monday to put the operation of the National Assembly back on a normal track but left uncertainties unresolved over fast-tracked bills on electoral and prosecution reform.

They have decided to open the parliament's plenary session at 10 a.m. Tuesday to handle next year's state budget bill, according to Rep. Shim Jae-chul, new floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP).

He was briefing on the results of talks with his DP counterpart, Rep. Lee In-young, and Rep. Oh Shin-hwan, floor leader of the smaller opposition Bareunmirae Party. The meeting was arranged by National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang.

The ruling party agreed to put the contentious fast-tracked bills on the back burner, while the LKP would withdraw a filibuster.

National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-Sang holds a meeting with the floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party at his office in Seoul on Dec. 9, 2019. (Yonhap)

In the plenary session to be held on the last day of this year's regular session of the National Assembly, they are expected to handle a number of bills related to the people's living, which are less controversial politically.

The bills include the so-called "Min-sik's Law," named after an elementary school student killed in a car accident in front of his school. It stipulates mandatory installation of speed cameras and traffic lights in child protection areas, along with tougher punishments for violators.

A package of three bills on toughening regulations on private pre-schools with state subsidies is also the focus of keen public attention.

The parties plan to hold a meeting of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee on Monday to review three bills on the use of big data.

At issue is whether and when to put the electoral and prosecution reform bills to vote. One election-related bill calls for the expansion of proportional representation to fill the 300-member unicameral National Assembly. The next general elections are slated for April 15, 2020. Bills on prosecution reform are meant to create a non-prosecution unit to probe corruption by high-ranking government officials, including senior state prosecutors, and give police more investigative authority.

The LKP is fiercely opposed to the proposed legislation, claiming it is designed only to prolong the power and reign of the current ruling bloc.

Earlier in the day, the LKP selected Shim, a five-term lawmaker, as its floor leader.

Rep. Shim Jae-chul (R), new floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, talks with Kang Gi-jung, senior Cheong Wa Dae secretary for political affairs, at the National Assembly in Seoul on Dec. 9, 2019. (Yonhap)

Kang Gi-jung, senior Cheong Wa Dae secretary for political affairs, paid a courtesy call on Shim and conveyed a congratulatory message from President Moon Jae-in. After the meeting, Kang said he had delivered a message of hope for full-fledged dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties.

With Shim's election as floor leader, the parties' dialogue has resumed following a lengthy stalemate, but it remains uncertain how long it will continue amid a wide gap between their positions, especially on the fast-tracked bills.


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