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Worst Regular National Assembly Sessions

Posted November. 14, 2002 22:34,   


The plenary session on Nov. 14 actually ended the regular sessions of the 2002 National Assembly. However, as many bills for political reforms failed to pass into law, there is criticism that the 2002 Assembly was the worst of its kind.

Parties promised that they would pass on that day some bills, such as the bills on the National Assembly Law, the Confirmation Hearing Law, the Election Law and the Political Funds Law. However, those bills even were not presented to the plenary session.

Considering that the presidential election is some 30 days away, it is almost impossible to open a session again. Therefore, in effect, those bills will not pass through the Assembly this year.

The majority Grand National Party (GNP) and the pro-government Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) made sure that they would discuss and put on the vote those reform bills. But they put their political interests first and failed to push ahead with negotiations on the reform bills.

Even the presidential candidates did not show their willingness to discuss the bills though some bills and their campaign pledges overlapped. As a result, there are doubts that they do not have any intention for political reform.

The GNP`s 200-point campaign pledge, which was decided at its Nov. 13 party meeting, includes: the set-up of a system to inspect possible corruption cases involving the President`s relatives; the Election Management Committee`s right to review campaign cost; reporting incomings and outgoings of political fund to the Election Management Committee. However, the party did not make efforts to pass bills related to those measures into law.

At a meeting of the National Assembly` Special Committee on Political Reform, the GNP showed lukewarm attitudes on measures to limit use of political funds.

In early November, Lee Hoi-chang, the GNP presidential nominee, stated that the political reform bills should be put on the vote at the earliest date. But now there is a high probability that his election promise ends up as an empty one.

Roh Moo-hyun, the MDP`s presidential nominee, is not different from Lee on that point. He promised to establish a legal device to eradicate corruption cases involving high-profile government officials on several occasions. However, actually many MDP lawmakers did not appear at a meeting of the National Assembly`s Legislation and Judiciary committee to discuss a bill related to this issue.

In the meantime, the Assembly`s plenary session on that day passed four bills including a revision bill to the special law on the inquiry of the truth about suspicious deaths which would extend the activities of the Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths by a year.

Before the start of the plenary session, the Legislation and Judiciary Committee held its subcommittee meeting and general meeting, in which it voted for a revision bill to the Anti-Corruption Law with only GNP lawmakers attending. But faced with fierce opposition of the MDP, it did not present the revision bill to the plenary session of the National Assembly.

Jong-Koo Yoon jkmas@donga.com