Go to contents

[Opinion] The Speaker of National Assembly to Be Firm in His Convictions

[Opinion] The Speaker of National Assembly to Be Firm in His Convictions

Posted February. 27, 2002 10:26,   


National Assembly resumed session with difficulty, but is still unsettled. Our National Assembly doesn’t have any practical device guaranteeing smooth sailing.

This case is one example. The cause of the happening was that the lawmakers of majority opposition parties rushed to the platform and restrained the speech of a lawmaker of ruling party, as the speech got on their nerves. There came about something inconceivable.

National Assembly in England is called as `Parliament` whose origin `parler` means `to speak`. That means the Parliament is the place where people can speak out. Hence, English respect and never make issues of whatever lawmakers speak.

As is same the case that he or she tells an apparent lie and falsehood. It is because they take lawmaker’s privilege of exemption from liability as alpha and omega of parliamentary democracy.

It is absurd that they employed physical power to cover mouth of others. Moreover, it is shocking that the movers were members of opposition parties.

People think opposition parties as the political future of a country, as they are significant as checks on ruling power. If even those opposition parties don’t respect the basic value and norm of parliamentary democracy, the political future of the country would be obvious.

The essence of parliament is nothing particular. It is the place of political dialogue originated from the thought that dialogue could substitute for guns and swords. Therefore, when others tell absurd things, one should listen to the last of the speech, and then can show why it is reckless through his speech. How can we ask those who are not mature politically and personally enough to control themselves for the administration of our country?

Then the basic device to secure parliamentary democracy is individual morality and self-control of lawmakers. But it is hard to secure the lawmakers of such qualities in our political situation. Hence, it is desirable to grope for the device, which might secure the safe sail of National Assembly.

But the efficiency of the `approaching to platform prohibition law` which ruling party has under consideration, is doubtful. It is because that if someone occupy the platform and obstruct the speech of others in spite of the law, practical sanctions could be applied after Special Committee on Ethics of National Assembly decide the level of punishment, and the speaker of National Assembly exercise the power to maintain the order of the House.

From this point of view, the proposal of the National Assembly Speaker is worth listening to. He requested the ruling party to expel him. That’s because the Speaker of National Assembly cannot be a mediator for conflicts inside the House, when he is suspected to be side on any party of ruling or opposition. In addition, there is a saying that parliamentary democracy is brought up not by revolution but by steady evolution.

We should accumulate improvement and alteration one by one whenever an issue is brought forward. Then, our politics could secure the growth in quality. The ruling and opposition parties should lay their heads together in searching for systematic device to ban the Speaker from keeping party membership, instead of the `approaching to platform prohibition law`.

Moreover, if such happenings come up again, the Speaker should exercise the power to maintain the order of the House by making Assembly guards control the lawmaker who interferes the speech of other members.

It is not the responsibility assigned to the Speaker, but also the shortcut to raise the authority of the Speaker and the practical substitute for realizing parliamentary democracy. The Speaker is not mere a master of ceremonies but the holder of the judicial casting vote.

And in order to make the authority of the Speaker powerful, it requires the National Assembly members’ understanding and respect for the Speaker. But the members of our National Assembly lack the mutual agreement and understanding of the Speaker. It is true that support from certain political parties is the key to become the Speaker. But from the instance when one becomes the Speaker, he or she is not a member of a certain party so much as the head of legislature. Hence, the Speaker has the synthetic authority over all parties in the House. The idea treating and controlling the Speaker as a member of the party should be discarded from the first. It is as impossible as seeking a fish in a tree to expect smooth progress of the National Assembly session without securing the authority of the Speaker.

Park Jae-Chang (Prof. of Sookmyung Women’s University, Parliamentary Administration)