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National Assembly suspends voting on fast-tracked reform bills

New Floor Leader Shim Jae-cheol of the Liberty Korea Party (Yonhap)
New Floor Leader Shim Jae-cheol of the Liberty Korea Party (Yonhap)
The National Assembly decided Monday to suspend voting on the fiercely contested fast-tracked bills, including election and prosecution reforms, and to postpone its plenary session until Tuesday.

With the help of the National Assembly speaker, the three major parties – the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, Liberty Korea Party and minor conservative Bareunmirae Party – came to the interim agreement.

The longstanding battle over the reform proposals came to a cease-fire as the Liberty Korea Party, which elected a new floor leader, retracted its earlier decision to stage a filibuster on all the pending bills.

“We will consider withdrawing our decision to stage a filibuster after the party meeting,” said Shim Jae-cheol, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.

While the election and prosecution reform bills are postponed until Tuesday, when the parliament will vote on the budget for next year and review less contentious bills, it is unclear when those bills will be put to a vote during a special section that starts Wednesday.

Meanwhile, political experts speculate that newly elected Floor Leader Shim Jae-cheol of the Liberty Korea Party will check on his superior, Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn, who has been criticized for his domineering and dogmatic party leadership.

Shim, a five-term lawmaker who served as the party’s deputy speaker in 2017, is considered a heavyweight who can help to lead the party facing sagging approval ratings.

Shim will succeed outgoing Na Kyung-won, whose one-year term ends Tuesday as the party has decided not to renew her tenure. “With humility, I will devote myself to the party,” Shim said. “With you, we will win the general election next year.”

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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