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[Editorial] Who`s Responsible for Parliamentary Delay?

Posted August. 20, 2008 07:32,   


The ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party have reached an agreement over the revision of the Act on the Prevention of Livestock Epidemics, finally ending a deadlock over the chairmanship of committees necessary for parliament to function. The formation of parliamentary committees is the foremost priority and mandatory as it is the first step in normalizing the National Assembly. This took 82 days after the new parliament officially began its term. Thus, it is easy to doubt if we really need this negligent parliament.

Both parties are greatly responsible for the delay. The ruling party has been helplessly dragged around by opposition parties despite enjoying a parliamentary majority. The Democratic Party, however, should shoulder more blame because it used the committee formation factor as a political pawn, despite its irrelevance to the national interest or the people’s livelihood. It was inappropriate to link the matter with the revision of the livestock act, and to stubbornly demand that the ruling party accept a proposal that it could not was tantamount to trying to sabotage the National Assembly.

The opposition initially demanded a five-year ban on importing beef from cattle aged 30 months or older from a country where mad cow disease has been reported and parliamentary approval to lift the ban. If these demands are met, the promulgation of sanitary terms on U.S. beef imports will turn into scrap. This will make the government’s efforts to avoid trade conflict and damage to Korea`s credibility completely useless, including two extra rounds of beef negotiations with the U.S. amid months of candlelight protests. Although the party agreed to respect the terms of the beef negotiations in the final agreement, it was totally reckless behavior for a political party that should have had a sense of responsibility.

The Democratic Party`s delay of parliamentary formation, as well as the opening of the National Assembly for 41 days to take advantage of the candlelight rallies, is a severe dereliction of duty and violation of National Assembly law. When it was known as the National Congress for New Politics, the party also delayed formation of the 15th Assembly’s committees for 80 days by linking it to the appointment of the prime minister. How can a party that exploits the law for political gains and is accustomed to bickering for political advantage engage in sound politics? Unless the party removes these bad practices and the ruling party regains its political influence, it will be difficult to expect the 18th National Assembly to be productive and contribute to the people’s welfare and happiness even when normalized.

While parliament was wasting time, none of the bills necessary to improve the people’s livelihood and administration have been dealt with. Lawmakers, however, received 43 million won every month from taxes. Not only lawmakers, but all members of political parties must make a heartfelt apology to the people for the parliamentary vacuum ahead of the normalization of the National Assembly.