[Weekender] China’s rising clout in Korea

Discord spreads within main opposition party over gov't reorganization bill

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Published : 2013-03-08 21:57
Updated : 2013-03-08 21:57

Discord began to spread within the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) Friday as it faced growing pressure to pass a controversial bill seen as blocking the new government's launch.

The bill, which calls for a reorganization of the government's structural layout, has been stuck in parliament since the end of January due to disagreement between the DUP and the ruling Saenuri Party.

The deadlock has led new President Park Geun-hye to hold off on formally appointing chiefs of ministries that are subject to the reorganization, effectively paralyzing parts of the government since Park's inauguration 11 days ago.

The DUP has blocked the bill's passage because it calls for a transfer of some responsibilities from the watchdog Korea Communications Commission (KCC) to the future creation and science ministry to be established as part of the reorganization.

Park and the Saenuri Party insist the transfer is necessary to boost government efficiency, while the DUP argues the administration is trying to control the media by taking over the commission's rights to allocate cable television channel numbers.

On Wednesday, DUP floor leader Park Ki-choon proposed a trade-off between the transfer and a set of concessions he said would demonstrate the new government's will to guarantee the media's neutrality.

Both Park and the ruling party rejected the offer.

Saenuri floor leader Lee Hahn-koo made a counterproposal the following day, suggesting the two sides ask Assembly speaker Kang Chang-hee to put the bill to a vote using his authority to do so upon agreement with the parties. The DUP declined.

Amid the tug-of-war, DUP interim chief Moon Hee-sang openly criticized both floor leaders during a party meeting earlier in the day, saying they should "stop putting forward proposals that the other side can't accept." He compared the situation to the Aesop's fable "The Fox and the Stork," in which both deliberately serve food in bowls the other cannot eat out of.

Moon also expressed his frustration over the impasse by offering to "take all the responsibility and make a serious decision" if the negotiations break down.

Some party officials interpreted the remarks as an offer to resign, while others said they were aimed at putting pressure on the president and the ruling party.

"The government reorganization bill issue is a big burden on the opposition, so (I) would like the party leadership to make a wise decision," Rep. Kim Young-hwan of the DUP told Yonhap News Agency by phone, indicating that his party should compromise on the bill.

Others defended the leadership.

"I'm personally against the (trade-off), but they wouldn't have made such a proposal if it wasn't for President Park's refusal to budge," Rep. Choi Min-hee of the DUP said. (Yonhap News)

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