The South Korean government convened an emergency cabinet meeting on short notice on Friday, where a vote decided to officially announce and declare in an official gazette the passage of the Housing Lease Protection Act that the ruling Democratic Party of Korea unilaterally pushed forward with. Within just four days, a bill was submitted to the National Assembly judiciary committee and made its way through the National Assembly to get ready to take effect. The main opposition United Future Party has no option but to feel their hands tied while the ruling party-majority National Assembly expedites a legislative process that has never been witnessed even though authoritarian governments of earlier times.
With 176 seats at the National Assembly taken by Democratic Party of Korea members, it is understandably impossible for a small-sized party to put the brakes on the ruling party’s disrespectful actions toward the legislative body. Although the National Assembly Act allows for filibuster and a constitution of the Agenda Coordination Committee, the outnumbering ruling party can put a stop to such counteraction with ease. Nevertheless, such circumstantial conditions do not provide the main opposition party with excuses for its lethargic reaction. The United Future Party never lifted a finger to hold a meeting in response to the passage of the Housing Lease Protection Act, an issue at the center of controversy, which the administration abruptly opened an emergency cabinet meeting to make happen.
When the ruling party pushed its way to the passage of the bill at the Standing Committee and the plenary session of the National Assembly, what opposition party lawmakers only did was to boycott a vote and leave. They failed to maintain their presence and stay determined to show their opinions and point out negative aspects of the bill.
What’s worse, the ruling party has misled the public, infuriated by the skyrocketing housing prices, into believing that the former conservative administrations are to blame for the incumbent administration’s failed housing market while projecting a revision to the prosecution and police system, which may increase the administration’s influence on the independent bodies, as a reform to limit their excessive authority. Even with a full-range of politically promotional activities on the ruling party’’s side, the United Future Party does not show any determination to express sharp criticism and win over the hearts of the public not to mention a mere mentioning of its opposing view. Although a series of scandals and allegations has made the headlines to show political favoritism and misuse of authority, the opposition party has not gone at them to attack the ruling party back.
The opposition party members' inaction driven by the numerical inferiority at the National Assembly is tantamount to their self-denial of what they are for. They should secure their future not by merely waiting for any free gains that come from the administration's failure of governance that disappoints its citizens but by leaving back their nostalgic memories of their golden age as an outnumbering party. A wide range of efforts should be underway in and out of the National Assembly to raise their political voice and interact with citizens. No more excuses are allowed to justify their inaction just because they are outnumbered by the ruling party. Under some of the former administrations, the opposition party would play a leading role in governance although they experienced worse numerical inferiority at the National Assembly.