The confrontation between the rivaling parties over the government reorganization plan continued to cripple the fledgling Park Geun-hye administration with no signs of breakthrough in sight.
The ruling Saenuri Party’s chairman Hwang Woo-yea on Thursday proposed a joint meeting among leaders of the rivaling parties and the National Assembly speaker to discuss the revised Government Organization Act.
Hwang offered a deadline to resolve the confrontation by saying, “It is hoped that we can hold a joint meeting to resolve the issue before the end of the weekend.” Hwang stressed that the organization plan should be completed within the ongoing extraordinary parliamentary session that ends March 5, in time for the finalization of the ministerial confirmation hearings.
But the main opposition Democratic United Party denounced the proposal as an attempt to place the blame for the setback on the opposition party.
“We will consent to and welcome any proposal that aims to present an advanced suggestion, but a proposal to meet up without any essence is nothing more than a ruse to promote a position to the media,” said DUP spokesman Park Yong-jin.
The parties are at a deadlock over the transfer of broadcasting related issues to the Future Planning and Science Ministry from the Korea Communications Commission as part of the convergence plan.
The DUP strongly opposes the idea, saying that such a move will damage the independence of broadcasting. Its alternative proposal to transfer only the promotion aspect of the broadcasting policies to the ministry, and maintain the licensing rights within the KCC has been denied by the Saenuri Party.
In a stepped-up mood to pressure the opposition, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won visited the National Assembly Thursday and requested a swift passage of the reorganization bill in his meeting with the Assembly speaker as well as the leadership of the rivaling parties.
The Saenuri Party also scaled up its move to appeal their position to the public.
“Recent public surveys show that people highly support the idea to create national wealth and jobs by converging the broadcasting with communication. It is hoped that the matter can be solved before the end of the weekend,” Hwang said.
Saenuri Party floor leader Lee Hahn-koo pointed to the election pledge of the DUP, which had also included setting up an exclusive body to converge information and communication technology.
“(The DUP) is showing a completely different attitude concerning the government organization bill just days after proposing to promote coinciding pledges together,” he said.
Reports suggested Park will be forced to put off the designations of some of the new ministers-designate until the government reorganization is finalized, although she does not need parliamentary approval for her confirmation once the hearing process is completed.
It is because although she is entitled to name her own Cabinet members, many of them need titles befitting the newly forming ministries, such as the Ministry for Future Planning and Science that will be an amalgamation of four different ministries.
The DUP, for its part, attempted to take the issue directly to Park, criticizing the Saenuri Party for failing to fulfill its role.
“The ruling party’s leadership has neither the determination nor the capacity for negotiation. We demand the president to make the call,” DUP floor leader Park Ki-choon said.
The party continued to express concern over the plan, saying that a convergence of the information and communication technology to develop the industry was the same as saying the government planned to limit the freedom of the press.
“It is incredibly regretful and distressing to see that (the ruling camp) has refused our proposal to protect the minimum level of the freedom of press,” said senior vice floor leader Woo Won-shik.
By Lee Joo-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org