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[Focus] Reform legislation faces rocky road

Posted December. 26, 2000 14:21,   


Even if an agreement for the next year's budget is reached during the regular session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, the ruling and the opposition parties still have other contentious bills at their hands.

Starting with the National Assembly Laws revision granting the United Liberal Democrats (ULD) a status as negotiating party, there are various other hot potatoes such as the revisions of the National Security Laws, the Human Rights Laws, the Anti-Corruption Law, the National Government Organization Act, the Rules for the Public Educational Personnel and Staff Act, and the Public Prosecutors Act, which have all been postponed.

National Assembly Laws revision:

As predicted by many, the revision of the National Assembly Laws has been the one for greatest bones of contention. As the very deliberation for the revision has been a non-starter due to the opposition Grand National Party's deliberate foot-dragging, the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and the ULD asked National Assembly Chairman Lee Man-Sup to introduce the bill at the regular session upon his vested authority. However, the refusal by the chairman has only added to the increasing irritation of the ULD.

Among certain members of the ruling MDP, there are hushed calls for the "honorable hara-kiri (ohk-sae, in Korean)" of the ruling MDP's floor leader Chung Kyun-Hwan. As the revision granting negotiation status for the ULD could affect President Kim Dae-Jung's clean-up of the government, the hushed calls seek the MDP's floor leader Chung to bring the bill to the floor through an enactment of the "special authority for the bill," then resign from the post.

Remaining contentious revisions:

The ruling MDP proposes to settle issues during the current regular session, the revisions of the National Security Laws along with the Anti-Corruption Laws and the Human Rights Laws and the three Reform Measures and the Privacy in Communication Act. However, the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) has remained adamant and showed no sign of compromise, especially in regard to the revision of the National Security Laws, stating it was too early for such talks.

On the other hand, the opposition GNP urgently has called for the talks on the proposed Neutrality of Prosecutors Office Laws, which seek the establishment of an independent committee for the appointment of the prosecutor-general, and the ban on the dispatch of government or Cheong Wa Dae administrative personnel to the Prosecutor¡¯s Office, further widening the gap between the parties.

In addition, the opposition GNP, in conjunction with the ULD, also submitted a revision of the Rules for the Public Educational Personnel and Staff Act, to abolish the retirement age of 62, which had been established by the current administration. However, the revision faces stiff opposition by the ruling MDP.

Days ahead:

The various contentious issues might have to await the coming of the new year. Even so, should the issues remain unresolved through the talks between President Kim and the opposition GNP President Lee Hoi-Chang, as well as the talks between President Kim and the ULD Honorary President Kim Jong-Pil, the bipartisan entrenchment surrounding the contentious revisions will only worsen.