Minor party suspends lawmaker’s membership over drunk driving accusation
SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- A minor opposition party on Wednesday suspended the party membership of Rep. Lee Yong-ju, who stands accused of having driven under the influence of alcohol earlier this month.
The Party for Democracy and Peace (PDP)'s ethics panel also decided to recommend Lee fulfill 100 hours of volunteer services for victims of car accidents.
Rep. Lee was among lawmakers who co-authored a bill aimed at toughening punishment on drunk drivers in October. The legislation, which mandates heavier penalties for drunk drivers and stricter standards of blood alcohol level, has been pending at the National Assembly since October.
It is called the Yoon Chang-ho act, after a 22-year-old soldier who died last week after being in a coma since September, when he was struck by a motorist who was driving drunk in the southern port city of Busan.
The PDP said that it has decided to suspend Lee's membership for three months. He will not be expelled, the party said, as expulsion is only possible when a member's behavior threatens the party's existence or harms party members.
"But the suspension of party membership has a significant symbolic meaning as it leaves a blot (on the lawmaker) and also is a punishment unfavorable to him," lawyer Jang Chul-woo, the head of the panel, said.
Rep. Lee attended the meeting and apologized for causing a social uproar and disappointing the people.
Rival parties agreed earlier this week to expedite the passage of the proposal during the ongoing regular parliamentary session.
Source: Yonhap News Agency