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National Assembly needs a major reform

Posted August. 20, 2014 08:53,   


The deadlock between the ruling and opposition parties over the Sewol Ferry Act was finally broken on Tuesday, the last day of the extraordinary session in July. They managed to avoid the disgrace of an extraordinary session not passing a single bill and holding a general meeting for three months. Regarding the recommendation of special prosecutors for the Sewol ferry disaster, a key point at issue, both the ruling and opposition parties reached an agreement by recommending two prosecutors who were supposed to be appointed by the ruling party with the agreement of the opposition parties and the bereaved families of the ferry disaster. In fact, they decided to bypass the principle by allowing the opposition party to take the initiative in the recommendation.

The major opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy Party or the NPAD party may think that it claimed a small victory after the brinkmanship tactics breaking the previous agreement. The deadlock between the ruling and opposition parties over the Sewol Ferry Act showed their irresponsibility and helplessness with the absence of parliamentary democracy and majority rule. The NPAD party continued to seek a “big deal strategy” under which it linked all other bills to the bill of its interest, saying, “There will be no passing of any bill without the passing of the Sewol Ferry Act. (Park Beom-gye, NPAD’s spokesperson).”

The NPAD also used the bill splitting a parliamentary inspection into two sessions a year and a bill granting Ansan High School students special slots in college admissions as hostage for the Sewol Ferry Act. The government organization bill, which is to get rid of old and evil practices unveiled by the ferry disaster, the Yoo Byeong-eun bill (a bill on the regulation and punishment of hiding the proceeds of crime), the Kim Young-ran bill (which is to ban illegal courtesies and prevent the conflict of interests of public officials) and 19 other economic bills were not even deliberated. If such opposition party takes power, will the people support it?

The NPAD party was able to stay strong in spite of criticism because of the National Assembly Advancement Act which prevents a bill from being passed unless it wins votes from three-fifth (180 seats) of the parliamentary members. If the Act legislated to prevent physical fights is misused to paralyze the function of the legislative body, the image of the opposition party that puts a drag on passing a bill will reinforced and the public will ask for the revision of the act.

Rep. Shin Hak-yong of the NPAD party, is under suspicion that he received around 30 million won (29,489 US dollars) from the Korea Kindergarten Association for the legislation of a bill in his book publication event. Both the ruling and opposition parties, which competitively promised to limit or make transparent book publication events that can be misused as illegal fundraising events at the beginning of the year, are doing nothing about the revision of the Political Fund Act.

About 20 legislators including ten from the NPAD party such as Rep. Shin Gye-ryun, Rep. Kim Je-yoon, and Rep. Yang Seung-jo, and legislators from the ruling party such as Rep. Cho Hyun-ryong, Rep. Song Gwang-ho, and Rep. Park Sang-eun are under investigation by prosecutors for allegedly receiving money for lobbying. The Korean National Assembly should shed its image as a “contract legislative body” which does not budge without taking money. At least, it should declare a major reform under which it will overhaul itself and play its due role.