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Debate Surfaces over Whether to Overhaul National Assembly Investigation

Debate Surfaces over Whether to Overhaul National Assembly Investigation

Posted October. 18, 2004 23:07,   


“We will review it,” “We will consider it,” “We will research it,” “We will instruct it,” and “We will investigate.”

These are the best five dodging replies ranked by a NGO watchdog of National Assembly inspections. As the NGO indicated, many government organizations under National Assembly probes during the National Assembly’s annual investigations offered wishy–washy answers to many sensitive issues.

The attitude of the lawmakers who conducted the probes is also problematic. Some legislators tinkered with the advisory guidelines published by the Bureau of Audit and Inspection to use them as if they were their own material. They also used policy proposals by government organizations as if they were their own proposals. Some lawmakers used data originally requested by other legislators, causing dispute of plagiarism.

The government institutions under probes have spent about 4.2 billion won, estimated by People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, an NGO, on printing materials for the National Assembly. There are public outcries claiming that National Assembly inspections need an overhaul.

National Assembly inspections, which were restored to the National Assembly in 1988, have been praised as a means to reveal social ills and corruption under the authoritarian regimes. However, the National Assembly is in session almost all year. As it is increasingly turning into a political standoff between the ruling and opposition parties, as lawmakers are using it as their own public stunt, and as the organizations under probes are increasingly being underwhelmed by the probes, debate has been set off over whether the inspection will continue or not.

“National Assembly inspections need overhauling to have structural defects removed,” the National Assembly monitor team of the PSPD said in a statement.

Demand for changes in National Assembly inspections is also rising among lawmakers across the aisle. Rep. Baek Won-woo of the Uri Party has frequently said that National Assembly inspections should be repealed.

Citing the high cost and low productivity of the investigation, Rep. Min Byong-doo, another Uri Party lawmaker, made the following institutional improvements: year-round National Assembly inspections; multiple periods of investigation within a year; and a due diligence process for investigations. Rep. Lim Tae-hee of the Grand National Party said, “There should be institutional improvements so that in-depth National Assembly inspections can be conducted into major issues.”

“Each National Assembly committee should have power to investigate all year,” said Prof. Kim Min-jeon at the department of Political Science of Kyunghee University. “Some institutions or policies should be allowed to be under intense scrutiny by the National Assembly so that it can practically check the administration.”

Young-Chan Yoon Jong-Koo Yoon yyc11@donga.com jkmas@donga.com