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National Assembly Passing Bills at Last Minute

Posted November. 07, 2002 23:03,   


There are worries over alleged rough deliberation, as the National Assembly is passing one bill after another. With the presidential election about 6 weeks away, the National Assembly shortened its regular session schedule by one month and, now, it is fighting for time.

On November 7, when the 13th plenary session was held, the Assembly carried 45 legislative bills and 3 resolutions.

At the session the National Assembly was supposed to deliberate 64 legislative bills, 7 motions and 5 resolutions. However, after only some bills were taken into deliberation, many lawmakers left the session. So, there were not enough lawmakers left for a quorum (majority of the total lawmakers) and the session dispersed at 4: 30.

In the first place, the Grand National Party, the Millennium Democratic Party and the United Liberal Democrats agreed to deal with 150 legislative bills during this regular session period. Therefore, on November 8, the last day of this session period, they should discuss as many as 100 bills and the budget bill for fiscal year 2003.

Since this regular session period started on Sept. 2, as many as 12 plenary sessions have been held. However, not a single bill was dealt with before Sept. 7, due to political strives among parties.

In addition, the judicial committee passed some 120 bills on Nov. 6 and 7.

In particular, when the plenary session was held on the 7th, the judicial committee opened its own meeting, in which it discussed about 60 bills.

Because there were not enough lawmakers present at standing committees meetings, they failed to take bills into full deliberation. As a result, the bills were passed onto the judicial committee. But the committee is just passing those bills in a mass. There is the worry that conflicts could take place among bills.

In 1998, 40 bills were dealt with in December, the last phase of the regular session period, in 1999, 68 bills, in 2000, 36 bills and in 2001, 77 bills. In those years there was not a presidential election. However, this year, the session period is shorter by one month due to the presidential election. In addition, the number of bills that should be discussed more than doubled. As a result, deliberation on bills in a rough-and-ready manner is unavoidable.

It is said that the government contributed to the situation by presenting a lot of bills after the start of October, conscious of the hectic schedule of the National Assembly at that time.

Moreover, the Assembly hurried to carry pork-barrel bills, such as the law on specific building regulation, which would authorize illegal rooftop rooms and the law on depositor protection. It also deliberated revised bills including the law on industry safety and health, the law on inheritance tax and the law on gift tax only 2-3 days after they were presented.

Meanwhile, the bills on which there are interest conflicts among manager, labor and government officials, such as the bill on securities class action suit and the bill on the establishment of public officials association, and the revised bill on the Labor standard Law, which stipulates the 5-day workweek, will be passed onto the next regular session of the Assembly.

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com