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    Feb 26, 2016

    S. Korean MP speaks for 10hr 18min to block Bill


    SOUTH Korean opposition legislator Eun Soo Mi spoke continuously in Parliament for 10hr 18min from 2.30am on Wednesday, breaking the country's filibuster record set in 1969, reported South Korean media.

    The act was not an individual show of endurance by Ms Eun, 53, but part of a marathon of speeches by opposition members to keep the Parliament from passing a long-stalled, anti-terrorism Bill, reported the Yonhap news agency.

    The Minjoo Party member, who had fasted since 7pm the previous night to prevent having to visit the washroom, was all tears when she wound up her speech in a largely empty chamber and was greeted with hugs by party colleagues, reported the Money Today television.

    "My lower back feels sore and my legs tired. Indeed, I feel aches all over," said Ms Eun, who had to be on her feet throughout the speech.

    "But once I remembered the faces of those poor and retrenched people I have met, I knew I must go on," added the labour activist who believes social injustices breed terrorism.

    Ms Eun's speech was mostly deadpan recitation of academic papers about the anti-terrorism legislation.

    Until her feat, South Korea's longest filibuster was by Park Han Sang in 1969, a then-opposition lawmaker, whose speech lasted 10hr 15min, according to Yonhap.

    The aim of Minjoo's filibuster strategy, which kicked off on Tuesday and was supported by other smaller parties, is to prolong the debate over the anti-terrorism Bill until midnight March 10, when the current parliamentary session ends, reported Joongang Ilbo.

    The ruling Saenuri Party, which accounts for 157 of the legislature's 293 sitting lawmakers and generally toes the line of South Korean President Park Geun Hye, has called the filibuster an act of terrorism against public safety.

    But Saenuri could not end the relay babble by itself as the move needs a consensus of three-fifths of lawmakers.

    According to a 2012 amendment to the National Assembly Act, a lawmaker could start a filibuster if the move is supported by one-third of all sitting legislators.

    Minjoo could easily muster the number with its 108 seats in the legislature.

    Ms Park and Saenuri hope to push through the anti-terrorism Bill, which has been languishing in Parliament since 2001, this time by citing the increased hostility from North Korea.

    But the opposition is as determined to kill it as they had in the past, arguing that the National Intelligence Service, whose powers would expand under the Bill, had often overstepped its authority and should be reined in.

    The world's longest filibuster was by late United States senator Strom Thurmond, who spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in 1957 against the Civil Rights Act, according to US Senate record.