The paralysis of President Park Geun-hye’s state affairs was prolonged as talks broke down Monday night between the two main parties over her government reorganization plan.
Cheong Wa Dae spent another day without an official schedule Tuesday, while the Cabinet meeting was once again canceled as ministries entered emergency mode still without new chiefs on the ninth day into Park’s inauguration.
The vacuum is likely to bring major setbacks to Park’s high-profile platform to implement welfare policies.
Even if the government reorganization finalizes in the near future, it will likely take until the end of this month for state affairs to normalize, considering the time needed for administrative follow-up measures and the remaining ministerial confirmation hearings. So far, less than half of the 17 ministers-designate have been confirmed.
|Prime Minister Chung Hong-won sits at the National Assembly on Tuesday while the seats for other Cabinet members remain vacant as their appointments have been delayed due to partisan strife. (Yonhap News)|
Public frustration and criticism, surged toward the president and both parties, as the standoff quickly overpowered the earlier resolve to bring in a new politics of cooperation last month.
Despite marathon talks, the parties failed to reach a deal, failing to agree over the proposal to transfer the right to enact and revise laws related to the cable system operators from the Korea Communications Commission to the new Ministry of Future Planning and Science.
The Saenuri Party wants the authority to be moved to the science-related ministry to promote industry convergence while the DUP demands it stays with the KCC for the sake of fair broadcasting. They reportedly reached as far as agreeing to let the ministry and the KCC share the legislation-related authorities by stipulating a process of a consensus, but the negotiation fell apart at the last minute.
“It is currently a situation where the government organization bill cannot be approved today,” the Saenuri Party floor leader Lee Hahn-koo said at a party meeting Tuesday, when the latest extraordinary parliamentary session closed.
Pressed for time, the Saenuri Party submitted a request to open another session in the afternoon, adding that the DUP refused a joint submission. The session is thus expected to be held from March 8 under the law that enables a session to open if signed by at least one quarter of the lawmakers. More than half of all lawmakers signed the request.
The breakdown in negotiations came after a series of dramatic developments, including the sudden withdrawal from nomination by science minister-designate Kim Jeong-hoon and an enraged address from Park in her first public statement since taking office to demand immediate resolution.
“The DUP was in the wrong in that it ended up positioning itself as a party that bogged down the new government with an issue that the general public does not even fully understand,” said politics professor Shin Yul of Myongji University.
“But President Park delivering such a statement only posed a greater burden on state administration as it was a move that crushed the natural process of politics. Park’s statement effectively removed any possible retreat for the opposition party’s leadership (from its position),” he said.
The Saenuri Party, for its part, is criticized for having little to no muscle in the negotiation dictated by the president, the pundits said.
Upon the extended crippling of the government, even the politicians expressed regret over how things unfolded.
“Although I understand the desperation of the president, I cannot but express regret over the timing and the method (of Park’s statement). I cannot but wonder whether (Park’s strong move) pushed the opposition into a corner,” said Rep. Kim Yong-tae in a radio interview.
The parties, nonetheless, reiterated their commitment to follow through with the negotiations.
“No matter how big the ruling party is, it is prevented (by law) for the National Assembly to be a place where one unilaterally leads the other,” said Saenuri Party floor leader Lee Cheol-woo in a radio interview.
“While it will be an inefficient Assembly for the time being, there will not be a chaotic one such as by pushing through a bill by force.”
The DUP’s floor leader Park Ki-choon said at a party meeting, “I apologize for not being able to bring more good news. I urge once again that it is appropriate to pass through what can be passed and discuss what needs to be discussed.”
By Lee Joo-hee (email@example.com