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[Editorial] Parliament’s Neglect of Duty

Posted January. 04, 2010 09:32,   


The Constitutional Court in March 2007 ruled unconstitutional a provision in the Public Office Election Law requiring a presidential candidate to make a donation of 500 million won (429,368 U.S. dollars). The court also struck down another regulation in November 2008 giving the Korea Broadcast Advertising Corp. a monopoly on broadcast advertising distribution. Though the two provisions were supposed to remain in effect only through Thursday, they remain in effect because no revisions to their respective laws were made by the deadline. Five provisions struck down by the court have expired in the New Year, and a combined 12 including the five await revision.

The National Assembly has time to revise a ban on outdoor assembly at night under the Assembly and Demonstration Law, a provision that was ruled unconstitutional last month and will expire at the end of June this year. With the revision delayed, however, confusion has ensued as judges on the front lines make different decisions on the same behavior. Provisions ruled unconstitutional have remained in effect temporarily since their immediate removal could generate confusion. Therefore, it goes without saying that the provisions in question should be revised within the given timeframe.

Fifteen provisions immediately lost effect due to being ruled unconstitutional without any follow-up bills. The Constitutional Court also ruled unconstitutional a dual liability provision that penalizes a legal entity together with legal deputies, employers and employees in 2007. Parts of the provision, including the Road Act, have yet to be revised and this delay could hurt innocent people. Whether the provision is unconstitutional or not, any delay in revision could create legal and social confusion and ultimately infringe on the people’s rights.

If the National Assembly, a legislative body that is supposed to represent the people, fails to take action, this is tantamount to negligence of duty and an act of contempt against the Constitution and the Constitutional Court, the highest legal authorities in the country. Among the 7,340 bills submitted to the National Assembly through the end of last year, only 2,736 were handled while 4,604 remain pending before the court. They include many bills on revising provisions ruled unconstitutional or inconsistent with the Constitution.

As such, the 18th National Assembly is the worst in the country’s history in handling bills. Politicians emphasize the people and their welfare in words, but such negligence shows that they only care about their political interests.