Updated August. 22, 2014 02:45
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) submitted to the National Assembly just before midnight on Tuesday a request for an extraordinary parliamentary session. As the National Assembly received an approval from the speaker and took steps to announce a session just one minute before midnight, the August extraordinary session will begin at 00:00 on Friday.
Had the party called the parliamentary session in the middle of the night in order to resolve problems that had been building up, the public would have been more than grateful. In fact, the NPAD had claimed that the National Assembly should be reconvened in order to quickly pass a special bill on April`s ferry sinking disaster. However, the party adamantly insisted on passing the bill before any other pending proposals. Later, it reversed its position on the first agreement of the bill while demanding renegotiations. Now, it set adrift the second agreement that reflected its demands and those by the victims` bereaved families, citing their objection.
Even if a parliamentary session is held, there is no guarantee that the NPAD, which has been swayed by a hardline faction, will be fully committed to deliberating numerous bills. The party`s hurried call for an extraordinary session as if conducting a blitzkrieg cannot be seen as anything but an attempt to protect some of its lawmakers facing bribery charges. Under the Constitution, lawmakers have the privilege of not being arrested without the National Assembly`s consent during a parliamentary session. If the lawmakers manage to hang on until Friday, they will not be arrested until the National Assembly does not pass an arrest consenting motion.
Apparently in consideration of such a move, the court plans to speed up the process and review warrants for detention of the three NPAD lawmakers and two others from the ruling Saenuri Party within Thursday. If the lawmakers failed to show up at courts, which would then have to set a new review date, they can be protected by the parliamentary session. In order to stop such attempts, the prosecution should try to put them into custody on the basis of arrest warrants even before the court review. If the lawmakers are honorable as they claim to be, they should never fail to show up at their warrant review hearings. The NPAD claimed Wednesday that the prosecution made a "military operation-like surprise move" to file for warrants of detention. However, it was the party that negated the law enforcement agency`s legitimate enforcement of law and put political pressure in an attempt to obstruct justice.
The NPAD`s floor leader, Park Young-sun, rebutted criticisms of a protective parliamentary session, arguing that it was her party`s position to hold sessions all year round. However, no one would take the words at face value. The party`s former co-chairmen, Ahn Cheol-soo and Kim Han-gil, have also signed the proposal for an extraordinary session, betraying their previous commitment to abolishing the non-arrest privilege for lawmakers. If the NPAD thinks that it is being unfairly criticized, it should encourage the lawmakers in question to show up at court hearings today.