SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- Rival parties failed Monday to reach an agreement on the normalization of the National Assembly due to their difference over a parliamentary probe into a hiring scandal at a public subway operator.
The floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and two opposition parties held a meeting earlier in the day to discuss ways to break the current parliamentary stalemate amid partisan tensions.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and the minor Bareunmirae Party (BP) boycotted a plenary session Thursday, demanding the dismissal of the presidential secretary for civil affairs and a parliamentary probe into a hiring scandal at a public subway operator.
The DP said that it cannot accept the rival parties' demand for the investigation into allegations that the Seoul subway operator under the city government gave unfair job favors to its employees' family members in what is being called a "hereditary succession of jobs."
Deepening partisan wrangling is likely to delay the National Assembly's review of the government's 2019 budget proposal and the passage of key bills on the economy.
"We are not saying that we oppose the probe. The state audit agency will first conduct its inspection into the case and uncover the truth thoroughly," Hong Young-pyo, the floor leader of the DP, said after the meeting.
"Wouldn't it be productive to look into whether there was systematic hiring corruption based on the agency's probe result?" he noted.
In response, Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the LKP, claimed that the DP is turning a blind eye to the hiring scandal to protect Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who is affiliated with the ruling party.
"This means that the DP would let a legal deadline to review the 470.5 trillion-won (US$417.4 billion) budget bill pass," he added.
The parties also failed to reach an agreement on how to compose a sub-parliamentary panel to review the budget. The deadline to handle the budget proposal is Dec. 2.
A parliamentary gridlock started last Tuesday when the opposition parties said they will not cooperate with the DP if President Moon Jae-in and the ruling party do not show willingness for joint governance.
The parties urged Moon last week to sack Cho Kuk, Moon's senior aide for civil affairs for failing to properly vet the environment minister before the nomination. Moon pushed ahead with the appointment of the minister without parliamentary consent.
Source: Yonhap News Agency