|Ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Lee Jung-hyun gives a speech while National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun listens on during a plenary session, Monday.|
Lee stressed that both the ruling and opposition parties need to avoid partisan interests when it comes to discussing security issues, in his first speech at the National Assembly after being elected leader of the ruling party last month.
Choo Mi-ae, chairwoman of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK), will also give a speech Tuesday, and Park Jie-won, the interim leader of the minor opposition People's Party, will speak Wednesday.
"It is regrettable that some politicians are abusing security issues to divide the public amid continuing nuclear provocations notably the launch of submarine-launched ballistic missiles by North Korea," Lee said during his speech.
"I hope the opposition parties will make a new tradition in which they expand cooperation on nationally crucial issues like the deployment of the THAAD battery and cyberterrorism."
As part of efforts to promote a cooperative legislative atmosphere, Lee suggested that the government share security-related information with the opposition parties.
"I hope the prime minister and security-related ministers share intelligence related to North Korea and its terrorist moves with opposition leaders too," he said.
The remarks came after the National Assembly was normalized following Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun expressing his regrets over his critical remarks on THAAD deployment.
The ruling party had boycotted Assembly proceedings in response to his remarks, arguing that Chung should step down for breaking the speaker's legal obligation of political neutrality.
Rival parties have been sharply divided over the THAAD issue: the ruling party advocates its deployment while the opposition parties remain critical in light of its potential harm to diplomatic relations with China and Russia.
During the speech, Lee also raised the issue of reforming the National Assembly, saying it is urgent to alleviate deep-rooted mistrust the public harbors toward the government.
He proposed a year-long public commission tasked with abolishing lawmakers' privileges and correcting their irregular practices.
"I propose that we establish a special commission outside the Assembly that looks back on the 70-year history of the National Assembly to make innovative reforms," he said.
"We should let outside people inspect the overall activities of the Assembly. Let them look into and assess our practices, customs and behaviors for one year while working beside us." He criticized previous Assembly committees for political reforms that made no progress in the past 30 years.
He emphasized that lawmakers' immunity from apprehension or prosecution be amended.
Touching on the need for constitutional revision, Lee insisted that the discussion should start from outside the political realm.
"Those who lead the talks should not be particular parties, government or politicians, but the public," he said. "Academia should start the discussion and expand it to the public. Politicians should specify the related rules and present a schedule afterwards."
The ruling party leader also courted people in the opposition stronghold of the southwestern Jeolla region, saying the party is open to establishing closer ties to the region.
"The Jeolla region does not belong to a certain party, nor is it progressive, aggressive or radical," Lee said. "The region does not have to be an outlier just because there are no prominent presidential candidates. It should be a member of mainstream politics."