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Prosecution reform bill to pass final vote by Tuesday at the latest
Filibuster stopped as Democratic Party uses early closureBy Ko Jun-tae
Published : April 28, 2022 - 14:16
Proposed revisions to the Prosecutors’ Office Act is on track to be presented for a final vote this Saturday, as the People Power Party’s filibuster ended with the Democratic Party voting for an early end to April’s provisional assembly, which was originally slated to close by the end of May 4.
Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, floor leader of the People Power Party, led the filibuster as the first debater. He was followed by Reps. Kim Jong-min and Kim Woong of the same party and Rep. An Min-suk of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party is opening another provisional assembly Saturday to put the bill to a final vote, and the People Power Party has run out of options to stop the bill from passing.
A filibuster cannot be repeated on the same bill, and the Democratic Party controls 171 out of 300 seats at the National Assembly. The bill that was subject to filibuster can be put to a vote three days after the debate strategy comes to an end.
The controversial bill is composed of two separate bills with the same purpose. The Democratic Party is working to have the first part passed Saturday, and present the latter half for the final voting procedure during the same plenary session.
One proposes revisions to the Prosecutors’ Office Act, and the other looks to bring changes to the Criminal Procedure Act. The bills work together to strip investigative powers from the prosecution, which has long been accused of abusing its power for political purposes.
If the strategy and timeline work as scheduled, the Democratic Party would succeed in presenting the two bills to President Moon Jae-in for promulgation at his final Cabinet meeting next Tuesday.
Even if the People Power Party launches a filibuster against the proposed revisions to the Criminal Procedure Act, the Democratic Party has widely said it will use the same method of voting to end a provisional assembly period early so that the filibuster comes to a closure by midnight.
In that scenario, the proposed revisions will be up for a final vote by Tuesday, and Moon could hold another provisional Cabinet meeting before his term ends to promulgate the two bills into official law.
The People Power Party, running low on options, has proposed to hold a national referendum on the topic and have the parliament decide on the basis of its outcome. Public polls have recently shown widespread disapproval of the bills in question, which prompted the conservative party to argue for holding a nationwide vote and possibly stop the bill from enactment.
“Should we directly ask the people if the National Assembly wants to unilaterally run a parliamentary dictatorship even after the new government is born?” Rep. Chang Je-won, the chief of staff for President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, said in a meeting with reporters Wednesday.
Chang proposed to hold the national referendum on the sidelines of the June 1 local elections, adding he was planning to bring the proposal to Yoon, who voiced against the legislative move through his spokesperson. Yoon was the chief prosecutor for South Korea before joining the presidential race.
Rep. Park Hong-keun, floor leader of the Democratic Party, denounced Chang for bringing up the idea of a national referendum, saying Yoon and his aides are trying to crumble the idea of checks and balances by attempting to sway the works of the parliament and legislators.
“It is absurd to hear this argument for national referendum,” Park said in a meeting of Democratic Party legislators on Wednesday. “The president-elect is making unconstitutional arguments that go directly against the idea of checks and balances without breaking a sweat.”
The prosecution has also been working to fight against the controversial bills from enactment, with the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office warning to file complaints and competence disputes with the Constitutional Court if the two bills pass the final voting stage.
A competence dispute, filed when two or more government agencies are in conflict over their authorities and jurisdictions, lets the Constitutional Court rule on the boundaries. The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has set up a task force to prepare for the procedure once the two bills pass.
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