With control of key committee, ruling party gains impetus in prosecution reform
SEOUL, The ruling Democratic Party (DP) has gained major impetus for its long-standing drive to reform the prosecution, having taken the chairmanship of the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee this week.
Defying a boycott by the main opposition United Future Party (UFP), the DP and other left-leaning minor parties elected Rep. Yun Ho-jung, a four-term ruling party lawmaker, as the chairman of the parliamentary committee on legislation and judiciary in a plenary assembly session on Monday.
Including Yun, the ruling party bloc elected DP lawmakers to head six out of the 18 standing committees of the 21st National Assembly whose term began on May 30.
The decision came despite strong resistance by the UFP, which accused the DP of bypassing the time-honored practice of reserving the chairmanship of the powerful legislation committee to the main opposition party.
Now, DP’s control of the committee, the final gateway before a bill lands at the plenary parliamentary session for voting, is on course to provide power for the ruling party to accelerate its committed drive to decentralize the power of the prosecution.
As the first step of the reform drive, the DP had a politically charged bill pass through the assembly’s plenary session in December, allowing the launch of a separate investigative unit with power to probe corruption by high-ranking officials including the president, lawmakers, court justices and prosecutors and pursue indictment independently.
In January, another contentious bill passed through the assembly, led by the DP, allowing a major revision of the Criminal Procedure Act under which the prosecution enjoys exclusive power over the police to drop criminal cases or pursue indictment.
In the run-up to the official debut of the new special probe unit in July, the DP’s control of the legislation committee, in charge of the two major reform issues, is expected to help smooth out the party’s further legislative efforts needed to name the head of the new body and get the new body started.
“I pledge to bring into completion the reform of the judiciary and the prosecution, one of the last reform tasks of our society for now,” Rep. Yun said as he took office as the committee’s chairman a day earlier.
The DP’s dominance of the legislation committee, the final gatekeeper of bills, is also sure to lend more power to the ruling party in its push to approve a number of important pending bills.
Among them is a government proposal for a third COVID-19 response extra budget worth 35.3 trillion won (US$29.3 billion) meant to help key industries cushion the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The biggest-ever extra budget follows the country’s first virus response budget totaling 11.7 trillion won in March and the second 12.2 trillion-won budget approved in April.
Source: Yonhap News Agency