Parliamentary leader to refer prosecution reform bills to plenary session on Dec. 3

SEOUL-- National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang will refer key prosecution reform bills placed on a fast track to a plenary session set for Dec. 3, parliamentary spokesperson Han Min-soo said Tuesday, as the rival parties have locked horns over the bills.

Earlier in the day, Moon notified the legislation and judiciary committee at parliament of the decision.

The bills include proposals to set up an independent unit to probe corruption allegations involving high-ranking public officials and to give more investigative authority to police.

In cooperation with minor opposition parties, the ruling Democratic Party managed to place them on the fast track on April 29, along with an election reform bill, despite opposition from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.

Moon's plan to present the bills to a Dec. 3 plenary session came amid speculation that he could do so as early as Tuesday, one day after a 180-day review of fast track-placed bills by its related standing committee ended.

Under the parliamentary law, a bill placed on the fast track needs to face a 180-day review by its related standing committee and a 90-day session by the legislation and judiciary panel to adjust the wording of the proposal.

The ruling party has maintained its stance that as the legislation and judiciary committee, a key panel for the passage of bills, is in charge of reviewing the bills, it does not need to hold a separate 90-day evaluation session.

The committee, however, has reviewed the bills for only 57 days since the 180-day review started, which means it has to continue its review to meet the required period of 90 days for adjusting wording of the bills.

"By giving more than one month of time to deliberate the bills, Moon is asking the ruling and opposition parties to make utmost efforts so that they can agree on the passage of the bills," Han told a press conference.

Under the law, a bill placed on the fast track should be put on the table within 60 days of its referral.

The DP, which has pushed ahead with a plan to have the prosecution reform bills passed ahead of the election law revision, is likely to have the bills placed on the table as early as possible after Dec. 3.

The election reform bill, aimed at overhauling the parliamentary election system, will be referred to a plenary session on Nov. 27. The bill, if passed, would enable the adoption of a mixed-member proportional representation system, in which parliamentary seats are tied to the percentage of voters' support for different parties.

Political tensions over the bills have shown no signs of receding.

The main opposition party, which refused to fast-track the bills, has voiced its objection to a bill on the establishment of the anti-corruption body that it claims violates the Constitution as long as it treats senior government officials differently from others. Ahead of Dec. 3, the party is expected to step up its efforts to appeal to the public to stem the bills adopted at parliament.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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