Motion for Arrest of Rep. Suh Voted Down

Article excerpt

In the shocking result of the voting showdown at the National Assembly, the motion to permit the arrest of Rep. Suh Sang-mok of the opposition Grand National Party was voted down, thus dealing a crucial setback to the coalition ruling camp.

Among the 292 lawmakers who cast ballots on the motion, 136 voted for approval of the court request for the arrest of Rep. Suh, while 145 voted against approval. The remaining seven abstained, and four ballots were nullified.

Given the result of the vote, more than 20 lawmakers in the coalition ruling camp crossed the party line in not voting for Rep. Suh's arres .

Upon announcement of the vote returns, the GNP lawmakers jumped with joy on the floor of the House, while those in the National Congress for New Politics remai ed speechless at the stunning result.

GNP spokesman Rep. Ahn Taik-soo immediately declared that it was a victory for justice against the political retaliation toward the opposition, saying,``The GNP thanks fellow lawmakers for passing a wise and stern judgment on this ill-motivated political vendetta of the ruling camp.''

With the defeat of the motion at the House yesterday, the legal action against Rep. Suh on the charges of the illegal collection of presidential campaign funds is seen as an impossibility and now a ``political risk.''

Rep. Suh had been facing prosecution for his role in the alleged collection of funds from businesses in collaboration with the national tax office during the 1997 campaign period, but the opposition GNP had denounced the legal action as a political vendetta against the opposition.

Now that a majority of the House rejected the prosecution of Rep. Suh, with even those in the ruling camp dissenting, the state prosecution would have to refrain from taking action against Suh, a GNP official said.

After the voting, Rep. Suh said that he would comply with the prosecution's probe, as well as insisting that the ruling NCNP should be subject to the same investigation into its campaign coffers.

The voting result, meanwhile, is expected to sharply strain the ties between the coalition partners, NCNP and the United Liberal Democrats, as the ULD lawmakers are now suspected to have defied the NCNP's line to place Rep. Suh under arrest.

Given the disputes over the parliamentary Cabinet system, the ULD lawmakers may have expressed their discontent with the NCNP, a move seen as reneging on their election promise, by voting down the motion, the observers said. …