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[Editorial] Irresponsible Ruling Party

Posted March. 05, 2009 09:24,   


The February extra parliamentary session ended Tuesday without passing most of the bills rival parties had promised to, including two on media reform and one on the banking law. Of 76 bills introduced to the plenary session after rival parties agreed to put them to a floor vote, 14 failed to be voted on due to lack of time. The ruling Grand National Party has accused the main opposition Democratic Party of breaching their agreement. Most of the blame, however, must fall on the incompetence, irresponsibility and sloth of the ruling party.

The Democratic Party’s breach of the agreement was largely expected. It has continued to obstruct legislation from deliberation in standing committees, including the one for legislation and judiciary affairs that has a Democratic Party lawmaker as chairman. Though the banking law centered on easing the separation of finance and industry has passed the National Assembly’s National Policy Committee, it was not even laid before the plenary session due to disputes at the legislation and judiciary committee. Some 25 bills were sent to the plenary session an hour before the extra session ended. The Democratic Party used filibuster tactics such as submitting revised bills and obstructing proceedings. The passage of the copyright law and a special act for digital broadcasting conversion were thwarted due to Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Jong-gul’s request for an opposition debate 10 minutes before the session ended.

The ruling party should have been prepared for these delay tactics. If it did not expect the Democratic Party to interrupt the bills at the last minute, the ruling party deserves to be called stupid. If it failed to act despite the expected obstruction, the party showed lack of vigilance.

The indolence and lethargy of the ruling party are at the core of the problem. Due to bipartisan wrangling at the national policy and legislation and judiciary committees, the plenary session was delayed from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and again to 7 p.m. It was again postponed to 9 p.m. because ruling party lawmakers failed to meet the quorum. The Grand National Party idled away two precious hours. National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o reportedly considered invoking his authority to put disputed bills to a floor vote, but the ruling party balked.

From late last year, the ruling party has urged the prompt settlement of contentious bills while pressuring the speaker to exercise his right. It backtracked at the last moment, however. This clearly showed the true nature of the Grand National Party. It has lost a sense of crisis in the face of the unprecedented economic crisis and deserted its responsibility for the public’s livelihood. So much so that Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun said, “The Grand National Party isn’t aware of being a governing party. It takes no responsibility as the ruling party.”

What has the ruling party’s leadership done so far? It must have been ecstatic over the agreement with the Democratic Party and considered maintaining its vested interests. After all, it is the people who stand to suffer the most due to the ruling party’s irresponsibility.