In the News – Ruling party considering motion to oust pro-N.K. lawmakers-elect from parliament
SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s ruling party is considering a motion to strip two opposition lawmakers-elect of their parliamentary seats amid conservatives’ growing concern their alleged pro-North Korea stances could pose a threat to national security.
The two, Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), have been under a firestorm of criticism for refusing to give up their parliamentary seats despite findings the party’s primary voting to select proportional candidates was seriously rigged.
Rep. Shim Jae-chul (L) of the ruling Saenuri Party speaks during the party’s leadership meeting on May 24, 2012. (Yonhap)
Fueling conservative concern about them were revelations that they are key members of the party’s largest faction comprised mainly of former student activists who had followed and acted under North Korea’s former ruling ideology of “juche” or “self-reliance.”
Lee actually was arrested and convicted in the early 2000s of involvement in an underground party linked to Pyongyang, and concerns from conservatives are that their entry into parliament would allow them wide access to sensitive information on national security. Kim was also formerly convicted on charges of violating the anti-communist National Security Law.
These concerns have prompted talk of the ruling party pushing to oust them from parliament.
“These are the people who deny the system of the Republic of Korea and give absurd answers when asked about the North Korean nuclear issue, human rights and the three-generation hereditary power succession,” Rep. Shim Jae-chul of the ruling Saenuri Party said during a meeting of party leaders.
Shim was denouncing the reluctance Lee and his colleagues have shown in criticizing Pyongyang.
“We cannot but be concerned about under what intentions they are trying to enter the National Assembly,” he said, calling for “thorough measures” for such pro-North Korea lawmakers-elect.
A key ruling party official said the party is thinking about proposing official talks with the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) about ousting the two lawmakers-elect from parliament. Such a motion needs two-thirds approval from the 300-member National Assembly and the two main parties have enough power to do so.
The DUP, which formed an alliance with the UPP in the run-up to the April 11 general elections, is unlikely to cooperate with Saenuri on the expulsion of Lee and Kim, political watchers say.
On the other hand, the interim chief of the UPP strongly denounced the idea as a disregard of the law.
Kang Ki-kab said the main opposition party’s acting leader, Rep. Park Jie-won, is also negative about using such a coercive means to resolve the situation and asked him to get Lee and Kim to quit voluntarily.
Lee and Kim have been given until Friday to give up their proportional representation seats, or face an expulsion from the party.
Kang, who leads the left-wing party’s reformist emergency committee against a so-called National Liberation faction, to which Lee and Kim belong, has said the party won’t have an opportunity to reform itself if its proportional representation candidates didn’t submit their resignations by noon on Friday.
Original article can be found here.