Go to contents

Korean parliament, gov`t and nation in vegetative state

Posted March. 06, 2013 07:40,   


The February extraordinary session of the National Assembly ended Tuesday with no deliberation of a bill to revise the Government Organization Act. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won told parliament, “If the revised Government Organization Act fails to pass parliament, the government is set to inevitably face a vacuum for a considerable period of time and public anxiety will double.” He urged lawmakers to pass the bill from a bigger perspective, but his words simply fell on deaf ears. Lee Han-koo, floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, said, “We have a situation now in which our National Assembly has placed the government in vegetative state,” blaming the main opposition Democratic United Party for the fiasco. Moon Hee-sang, head of the opposition party, hit back by saying, “The Democratic United Party has nothing more to make a concession with,” adding, “The sky will not collapse after today,” displaying a leisurely stance. The ruling and opposition parties are playing the blame game. Is there any other democratic state that has failed to appoint even a single Cabinet minister a week after the inauguration of a new president?

Had this situation occurred in the past, the National Assembly speaker could take a motion to submit the contentious bill to a majority vote in his or her capacity and get it deliberated. But it has become impossible for the speaker to submit such a bill in his capacity due to the National Assembly Advancement Act, which was adopted in May last year to prevent physical strife among lawmakers. This law merely made it possible for a bill over which the ruling and opposition parties agree on or a bill that wins three-fifths of an approval vote by members of parliamentary standing committees. The act put in place a system for fast-track deliberation to handle contentious bills, but also requires approval by three fifths of members of standing committees. If the opposition party rejects it, no single bill can pass the National Assembly.

In contrast, the opposition party delayed deliberation of a bill to revise the Government Organization Act last month by using a system to coordinate agenda that can be adopted on demand by a third of lawmakers. The party is exploiting this system to protect its own members by demanding a meeting of the agenda coordination committee to prevent punishment of Rep. Lee Jong-geol and Rep. Bae Jae-jeong, who called President Park “Geunyeon (that bitch).” The National Assembly Advancement Act has effectively put parliament in a vegetative state. This is in compliance with the Dong-A Ilbo’s argument made May 3 last year that institutionalizing filibustering by the minority under the pretext of preventing physical conflict is a measure that violates democracy based on the principle of majority rule, when the bill was passed by the National Assembly last year.

The deliberation of the bill on the Government Organization Act has been delayed due to controversy over the public nature of broadcasting. System operators hold the power to distribute channels. For this reason, experts say operators should be supervised by the Korea Communications Commission, a body run based on compromise and agreement. This argument has a few points, but cannot be a cause to put this country in a vegetative state. The ruling party said Tuesday that if the Democratic United Party can guarantee the fairness and neutrality of broadcasters, it will accept the bill 100 percent, and unilaterally demanded an extraordinary parliamentary session. Saenuri has failed to display leadership as the ruling party, while its opposition rival is controlled by hawkish lawmakers. This has resulted in the drifting of the functions of government. The people are anxious over how the government will respond if North Korea starts a military provocation in a chaotic time like this.

Vegetables have the amazing capacity to adapt to their environment by rooting themselves tens of meters into soil if water is scare. The non-productive National Assembly and government do not even deserve “a body in a vegetative state.”