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Parties clash in parliamentary audit

Clashes among political parties across the aisle are expected to continue entering the second week of a 20-day parliamentary audit, as they blame each other for disturbing the smooth operation of the audit sessions.

The related parliamentary committees on national defense and education, culture, sports and tourism, are expected to discuss the allegations involving the Lee Myung-bak administration and immediate successor Park Geun-hye, accused of using government offices and the national spy agency to attack and illegally gather information on its political rivals.

Acting President of the Constitutional Court Kim Yi-su (Yonhap)
Acting President of the Constitutional Court Kim Yi-su (Yonhap)

In the first two days following the beginning of parliamentary inspections Thursday, some audit sessions were called off even before a proper start.

The audit on the Constitutional Court conducted by the legislation and judiciary committee of the National Assembly on Friday failed to open, as opposition lawmakers attacked the acting chief of the top court, Kim Yi-su.

Kim, who was nominated by the presidential office to lead the Constitutional Court, was voted down by the National Assembly last month. But the presidential office on Tuesday retained Kim as the acting chief, which sparked criticism from the opposition, which said it is inappropriate for a figure rejected by the parliament to attend the audit representing the top court.

Due to rejections from the opposition parties, the acting president had to leave the parliament without an opening speech.

The centrist People’s Party and splinter conservative Bareun Party also called for the government to immediately pick new personnel for the position.

The audit sessions for the Ministry of Education also were crippled for the second time Friday, as lawmakers clashed over the allegation the Park Geun-hye administration manipulated a public opinion poll on its proposed state-designated history textbooks.

The controversial plan to publish a state-written textbook had been pushed by the former President Park, who now sits in jail awaiting trial. A committee inside the Education Ministry recently filed a complaint that the previous government at the time had manipulated a poll result that over 15,000 respondents were supportive of its proposal.

Over the allegation, the former ruling and now main opposition Liberty Korea Party lashed back, saying it is unfair for the ministry’s committee to only investigate the number of supporters. It refused to proceed with the audit.

In the inspecting session on the National Police Agency, Friday, the political orientation of the 20 personnel constituting a reform committee became the controversial target.

The Liberty Korea Party claimed the committee is established with civilians holding left-leaning political perspectives and criticized the government for lacking neutrality. The dispute almost called off the session only an hour after it started.

The ruling Democratic Party’s spokesperson Rep. Je Youn-kyung warned on Sunday that it is the Liberty Korea Party’s loss to “give up its right and responsibility as an opposition party and boycott the parliamentary audits,” and urged the opposition to take its duty.

A day earlier, the party’s Chairwoman Choo Mi-ae had also criticized the main opposition, saying they are boycotting the audit session too easily.

“The opposition parties are not taking its role seriously and boycotting the audits indiscreetly,” Rep. Choo said in a party meeting. “It is them that is unconstitutional. Their politics level has a long way to go.”

The Liberty Korea Party fired back, saying the Moon Jae-in government is trying to hide their current mistakes by shifting responsibility to past governments.

“The government is manipulating the media by bringing up the documents and faults of the past governments, at the time of state audit,” the conservative party’s Spokeswoman Rep. Jun Hee-kyung said on Saturday, viewing the government and the ruling party’s claims and actions as “political retribution.”

The parliamentary audit is to investigate 701 institutes in the 16 parliamentary committees until Oct. 31.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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