+ A

Vote on final contentious bills set for Monday

Jan 11,2020
A series of contentious bills to redistribute investigative powers between the prosecution and police, the final legislative moves in the Moon Jae-in administration’s criminal justice system reforms, will be voted on in a plenary session on Monday.

National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang introduced a bill to revise the Criminal Procedure Act, drafted by the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and its allies, to a plenary session on Thursday night. The Liberty Korea Party (LKP), which resisted the bill and requested a filibuster against the planned changes, did not attend the session in protest of Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae’s reshuffle of top prosecutors on Wednesday.

Speaker Moon declared that there would be no filibuster and adjourned the session. “The DP said it will introduce the bill but will not vote on it today,” Rep. Kim Jae-won, chief policymaker of the LKP, said Thursday. “The voting will be next week.”

Rep. Lee Won-wook, deputy floor leader of the DP, said the ruling party did not immediately vote on the contentious bill “in order to keep open a possibility of negotiations with the LKP.”

The DP said it will vote on the bill at a plenary session on Monday, along with a revision of the Prosecutors’ Office Act. Both bills are designed to weaken the prosecution’s investigative powers and delegate them to the police.

The ruling party also plans to vote Monday on three bills intended to strengthen oversight of kindergartens’ spending of state subsidies and a motion to confirm the appointment of Chung Sye-kyun as the new prime minister.

At Thursday’s plenary session, which started at 7:05 p.m., the DP and four opposition parties passed 198 bills within 163 minutes without the LKP’s presence.

The National Assembly originally planned to open the plenary session at 2 p.m., but the LKP asked for a delay. It said it wanted to hold Legislation and Judiciary Committee and House Steering Committee meetings first to discuss the Justice Ministry’s reshuffle of top prosecutors. Speaker Moon and the DP rejected the request.

After the LKP declared a boycott, the DP and four opposition parties tried to hold a session at 6 p.m., but they failed to secure a quorum of 148 lawmakers. After an hour of frantic phone calls by the DP members to summon lawmakers, the session started at 7:05 p.m. Of the 295 incumbent lawmakers, 151 participated in the voting.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]