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(2nd LD) Parliament passes several bills, contentious ones pending amid opposition protest

All News 18:17 December 09, 2020

(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; RESTRUCTURES; UPDATES with details throughout; ADDS new photos)

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- The National Assembly on Wednesday passed several major bills, with the passage of politically sensitive ones delayed amid fierce protest from the main opposition party.

Plenary session voting began at 3 p.m., one hour later than scheduled, as discussions between the assembly speaker and floor leaders of the rival parties on the voting procedure were more drawn out than scheduled.

Among the passed bills was legislation that would require listed companies to name at least one auditor from outside their board and limit the voting powers of the biggest shareholders and their families to 3 percent in the auditor's appointment.

This photo shows a plenary session of the National Assembly in Seoul on Dec. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

Parliament also pushed through a major police law revision that gives police more investigative authority, introduces a local autonomous police system and allows the establishment of a national investigation office.

Lawmakers also approved a revision to the special law on the May 18 Gwangju uprising, a nationwide democracy movement that originated in the namesake southern city in 1980.

Under the legislation, those who release false or distorted information on the historic movement face a maximum of five years in prison or a fine of up to 70 million won (US$64,500).

The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) requested a filibuster to block the passage of three contentious bills. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) currently holds a majority in the 300-member assembly.

Lawmakers of the main opposition People Power Party stage a protest at the National Assembly on Dec. 9, 2020, calling for the abolishment of a proposed bill related to the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials. (Yonhap)

Among the bills the PPP is planning to filibuster is an act designed to facilitate the launch of a new investigative body tasked with handling high-profile corruption cases.

The installation of the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) is a key component of President Moon Jae-in's pledge to reform powerful institutions, such as the state prosecution service.

PPP lawmakers have objected to the creation of the new agency over concerns its powers would be unconstitutional.

Ahead of the session, PPP lawmakers staged a protest in front of parliament's plenary chamber, chanting slogans and holding up placards and sign cards demanding the abolishment of the proposed CIO bill.

Two other major bills set to be challenged through filibuster are a law that would deprive the National Intelligence Service of its authority to conduct anti-communist investigations and an act that would prohibit the launching of anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the inter-Korean border.

Filibusters can only last until midnight, when the regular session of National Assembly officially ends.

In case of a failure to pass those bill within the regular session, the DP has indicated it will use an extraordinary session starting Thursday to complete their passage.

National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug bangs the gavel during a plenary session at parliament in Seoul on Dec. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)


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