PM Calls for Putting Revised Sejong City plan to Full Parliamentary Vote

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : June 23, 2010, 18:53 | Updated : June 23, 2010, 18:53

Prime Minister Chung Un-chan reaffirmed his position Wednesday that a controversial government revision to the planned relocation of key government offices out of Seoul should be brought to a full parliamentary vote to give it a second chance after a committee veto.

The revision failed to pass a parliamentary standing committee Tuesday following the ruling Grand National Party (GNP)'s unexpected defeat over its liberal rival Democratic Party (DP) in local elections early this month.

The election defeat was seen by many as public judgment on President Lee Myung-bak's key policies, including the plan to cancel his predecessor's decision to relocate nine government ministries and four subsidiary agencies to a city to be built in a central region.

In March, Lee's administration submitted to the National Assembly a revised plan calling for constructing an education, science and business hub in the city with larger self-supporting capacity than the originally planned administrative city. The revision has angered the opposition, who accused the government of breaking a promise made to the people.

"As far as Sejong City, a crucial state affair requiring deep reflection and careful judgment, is concerned, opinions of all legislators should be asked," Chung said in a meeting of high-level government and ruling party officials.

"I earnestly ask ruling and opposition lawmakers to decide on the issue with a broader and longer-term view for the true development of Sejong City and balanced regional development," he stressed.

Chung reiterated the government position that relocating major government ministries to Sejong City, located about 150 kilometers south of Seoul, is tantamount to dividing the capital into two.

His remarks came as the GNP's main faction loyal to President Lee began taking steps to send the rejected bill to the full session set to open early next week.

Lim Dong-kyu, a first-term lawmaker who belongs to the faction, was collecting signatures from party legislators to demand the submission. He said he already has over 40 signatures, well over the 30 required by law to refer a bill rejected in a standing committee to a full floor vote.

The government and the party group has insisted that the bill, even if it was rejected by Tuesday's vote, should be put to a full parliamentary vote so individual lawmakers can have a chance to decide on the issue and put their decisions on "historical record."

Parliamentary sources, however, expect that the bill will be vetoed by the plenary session, and opposition parties and even GNP lawmakers who are close to former party chairwoman Park Geun-hye, or are reform-oriented, opposed to the move.

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