Lawmakers of the Grand National Party and the United New Democratic Party grapple for control of the speaker’s podium yesterday in the main hall of the National Assembly. The GNP is trying to prevent a vote on an independent counsel bill to investigate Lee Myung-bak for fraud. [NEWSIS]
…but not. I mean, at least they get out their “honest opinions” eh?
Bang! Oof! Pow! Lawmakers in Assembly battle
UNDP fights its way into hall as GNP tries to block Lee probe vote
December 15, 2007
originally published here: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2883953
It was the battle of the legislators yesterday in the National Assembly. Dozens of United New Democratic Party lawmakers used their fists and an electric saw during a violent physical confrontation with Grand National Party politicians staging a sit-in to protect presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak from an independent counsel investigation.
Workers helped UNDP lawmakers by using the saw to cut through a metal pipe barring a door into the main Assembly hall. The GNP had occupied the hall for two days, vowing to prevent their foes from entering. A screaming tussle ensued as the liberal lawmakers entered and the two sides laid into each other.
The entire mess was carried live on cable television.
The fisticuffs erupted because the GNP is trying to physically prevent voting on a UNDP bill to appoint an independent prosecutor to reinvestigate the BBK investment fraud scandal. Lee was cleared by prosecutors of involvement in the fraud last week but the UNDP is not satisfied and wants to conduct a new probe. The GNP says the move is nothing but raw politics on the eve of the presidential election.
The UNDP and its allies have the votes to pass the measure, which could cast last-minute doubts on Lee’s race for president.
National Assembly Speaker Lim Chae-jung temporarily ended the battle yesterday by scheduling a review of the bill by noon Monday in the legislative committee. Failing that, he will put the bill to a vote directly on Monday using his own authority.
More violence is expected Monday as the GNP promises to block the measure. The presidential election is Wednesday.
Calling the prosecutors who conducted the one-month investigation “servants of Lee,” the UNDP, allied with other liberals, sought to impeach the three top prosecutors in charge of the case, but it is unlikely that plan can be voted on before its deadline of 4 p.m. today.
Such outrageous battles over last-minute legislation is almost a tradition in Korea, especially on politically sensitive measures. A bill to impeach President Roh Moo-hyun and a plan to dispatch troops to Iraq both caused similar skirmishes in the past.
The Grand Nationals began occupying the legislature on Thursday. By yesterday afternoon, the conservative lawmakers stood around the podium of the National Assembly speaker, physically blocking UNDP representatives from introducing the independent counsel bill. The entrances to the hall were barred and blocked with sofas to stop the liberal lawmakers from entering.
By 5:20 p.m., the United New Democratic Party mobilized the National Assembly staff to use the electric saw to open one of the doors. Shortly after, 80 UNDP lawmakers scuffled with the Grand Nationals and exchanged shouted insults. About 40 minutes later, the UNDP lawmakers seized the podium, pushing the Grand Nationals out with force. After the scuffles, GNP Representative Cha Myeong-jin was carried outside the Assembly on a stretcher.
Speaker Lim did not appear in person but said the UNDP measure would be voted on by Monday afternoon.
By Ser Myo-ja / Lee Ka-young
Staff Reporter / JoongAng Ilbo