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Speaker`s arbitral role needed to address assembly impasse

Speaker`s arbitral role needed to address assembly impasse

Posted September. 01, 2014 07:16,   


At a protest rally at Gwanghwamun Plaza over the weekend, Park Young-sun, acting chairwoman and floor leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, criticized the president, saying “President Park Geun-hye said when she met with bereaved families of victims one month after the Sewol disaster occurred that the government would take measures to ensure that they would not have any doubt about discovery of the truth. But now, she claims that it is not time for the president to interfere.” The opposition leader agreed on bills for the Special Sewol Act with the ruling party twice, only to have the bill and the entire National Assembly idly float in the face of opposition by hardliners within her party. But now, she is effectively pointing the finger at the president for the impasse.”

A protest rally that the NPAD was to stage at areas around Jongno and Gwanghwamun areas in Seoul on Friday failed to take place due to opposition by the public, who argue “Lawmakers should be working at the parliament, and what are you doing on the street?” Despite this, the NPAD is reportedly considering holding a walking march led by floor leader Park and others from Paengmok Port in Jindo, where the Sewol sank, to Seoul, while staging propaganda campaigns for the Special Sewol Act in its favor, after the Chuseok holiday. Given floor leader Park’s behaviors of late, she seems to have lost the conviction that enabled her to form a compromising bill with the ruling party floor leader, and to be only wary of Rep. Moon Jae-in, the head of her party’s hardline faction, and Kim Yeong-oh, the father of Yu-min, a high school girl who died in the Sewol disaster. This is the way the public actually see Park Young-sun at present. Rather than blindly following bereaved families of Sewol victims, the main opposition party should take care of the economy that has barely shown signs of a rebound, and the majority of the public.

For four months since May, the ruling and opposition parties have not deliberated even a single bill due to their intense dispute over the enactment of the Special Sewol Act. Despite this, lawmakers have received every single penny of the 70 billion won (69 million U.S. dollars) in their salary during the period. The first round parliamentary inspection of the government, which was scheduled from Tuesday last week, also failed to take place, causing 700 million won (690,000 dollars) of preparatory expense to go up in smoke. Floor Leader Park should end out-of-assembly protest rallies and sit-ins at the National Assembly that have lost justification, and instead seek to return lawmakers’ salary for the period they idled away, in line with the original bills for assembly reform, which they raced put forward in the latest general elections and the presidential election.

NPAD lawmakers are also set to take part in the opening ceremony of the ordinary parliamentary session that will take place on Monday, but it remains uncertain whether they will also attend ordinary sessions dealing with agendas, including the plenary sessions and standing committee meetings. If ruling and opposition party lawmakers who are gathering together at the main assembly hall after a long hiatus, even fail to deliberate on the bill on "whether to endorse an arrest warrant for ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker Song Gwang-ho" before adjourning the session after the opening ceremony, the public will be hugely disappointed again. Clause 3 under Article 76 of the National Assembly Act provides that “The drafting of agenda and meeting schedules for the entire assembly sessions should be consulted with the parliamentary Steering Committee, but if agreement is not reached, the National Assembly Speaker will decide.” If the ruling and opposition parties fail to narrow their differences over agenda and meeting schedules, Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa should take proactively step in to arbitrate, and exert efforts to bring the assembly to normal.”