National Assembly kicks off regular session amid political wrangling

The National Assembly kicked off its 100-day
regular session. Rival parties have got a lot on their plate
from government audits to the deliberation of pending bills and next year’s budget plan. However, ongoing political wrangling will
likely hinder progress. Kim Min-ji has the latest from parliament. The National Assembly will be in full operation
with the regular session kicking off Monday but the rival parties are at loggerheads over
many issues, so how much progress they’ll make remains unclear. “It’s worrisome that the final regular session
of the 20th National Assembly will be tainted with political strife. The presidential office, the parties and the
National Assembly should bear in mind that when they play their roles and move toward
national unity, this can become the kind of country we want to live in.” For now, the parties have agreed on a basic
schedule for the 100 day session. First up will be policy speeches by the country’s
main political parties starting September 17th. That will be followed by a government interpellation
session,… and after that the parliament will carry out an audit of government ministries
and their affiliated agencies. There’s a lot of uncertainty, though, given
the ongoing political wrangling involving justice minister nominee Cho Kuk. The hearing for the former senior presidential
secretary was supposed to be held on Monday and Tuesday but it did not take place as rival
parties were divided over the list of witnesses. In addition,… Cho faces allegations involving
his family about large investments in a private equity fund and his daughter receiving preferential
academic treatment. Instead, the ruling party and Cho pushed ahead
to hold a press conference where he could explain himself. On top of that,… there are contentious reform
bills that need to be dealt with,… including one on election reform. Last week, a special parliamentary committee
passed the bill that was put on fast track despite objections from the main opposition
party. The bill seeks to increase proportional representation,…
with parliamentary seats tied to the percentage of voters’ support for parties. Such issues cast a dark cloud over pending
bills related to people’s livelihoods as well as the government’s 423 billion U.S. dollar
budget proposal for next year. Working together has not been the rival parties’
strong suit,… and this time that’s likely to become more apparent. The session is expected to get off to a slow
start,… until the parties find common ground that suits their political interests. Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.

Maurice Vega

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