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Lukewarm Attitude of Assemblymen On “Ethics Declarations”

Lukewarm Attitude of Assemblymen On “Ethics Declarations”

Posted February. 27, 2005 22:32,   


The National Assembly’s Special Committee On Ethics is being criticized for its lukewarm attitude in adopting the “National Assemblymen’s Declaration On Ethics” recently. Critics argue that the 17th National Assembly had lost its original intention to bring about reforms there. According to the committee, the National Assembly even prepared a draft on the declaration of six points after adopting it in the general meeting on February 22, and intended to declare it in the plenary session on February 25, but that it was postponed due to opposition from assemblymen.

The draft introduced at the meeting on February 22 included the following: a ban on insulting remarks and actions; a ban on senile character assassination and faulty arguments; a ban on illegal occupation of chairmen’s seats either in general meetings or plenary sessions; mandatory attendance at the plenary session and the standing committee; mandatory promptness for opening and closing time in the plenary session and the standing committee; and finally, a ban on efforts to gain illegal profits at the expense of one’s prestige, including bribery.

Opposition Grand National Party lawmaker Suh Byung-soo cast doubt on the point: “Illegal occupation of chairmen’s seats in general meetings and plenary sessions is to be banned,” asking whether the opposition party would be able to abide by this in reality. He argued, “If [the ruling party] tries to outrun in numbers, there is no way to counterattack that in reality.” Sun Byung-ryul of the Uri Party said, “The public might be disappointed again if the meetings do not start in time and seats are empty, even with a public declaration.” He stepped back, adding, “What counts more would be the internal commitment or recommendations of the chairman and the Special Committee on Ethics than the declaration to the nation, though.”

Eventually, lawmakers delegated the draft to Rep. Lee Sang-min of the Uri Party, and Rep. Suh Byung-Soo of the Grand National Party for amendment, but still, both parties have not even started consultation.

Rep. Lee, the author of the draft (also the director of System Improvement Institute under the umbrella of Special Committee on Ethics) said, “The data is a compilation of public criticism in order of the most criticized to the least, based on a survey by the Graduate School of Seoul National University requested by us.” He added, “In fact, it is true there are many bans, reflecting people’s desperate requests.”

According to the Special Committee On Ethics, the amendment will possibly be declared as early as March 2 in the plenary session. However considering the procedure of being accepted by the committee members, it is likely that the headache would last until the extraordinary session of the National Assembly in April.

Moreover, regarding the matter of issuing a warning in the plenary session last month to Grand National Party lawmakers Park Jin and Chung Moon-hun, who were penalized for revealing state secrets, and ruling Uri Party lawmaker, Ahn Young-keun, who was warned for slander, the decision has not even been laid before the plenary session. The committee explains that given possible opposition from some members, it would take some time to review the disciplinary investigation report, but it would be inevitably exposed to public criticism. On about 10 lawmakers whose disciplinary bill has been presented last year, their disciplinary investigation is to be carried out as late as April in an extraordinary session of the National Assembly.

Ho-Won Choi bestiger@donga.com