As the new Gimhae Airport verification committee under the Office of the Prime Minister decided on Tuesday to nullify the Gimhae Airport expansion plan, the Democratic Party of Korea announced a plan to rapidly implement a project to build a new airport in Gadeok Island by enacting a special law. The plan is to propose a special bill containing many special cases, exemptions, and exceptions by the end of this month and pass it before the end of the year to pursue the Gadeok Island project without going through complicated steps, such as a preliminary feasibility study. Since the party has a majority in the National Assembly and the opposition People Power Party is unlikely to oppose the bill in consideration of a by-election for the mayor of Busan in April next year, it has chosen a quick and easy way of enacting a special law.
While some point to potential problems with the decision of the verification committee, there is no conclusion that Gadeok Island is a suitable location for a new airport in the southeastern region even if the government accepts the committee’s suggestions and scraps the new Gimhae Airport plan. It means the new airport plan should be reexamined from the starting point, not a hasty leap to the conclusion that Gadeok Island is the only alternative.
Forcing the Gadeok Island Airport project with a special law, even though it is estimated to require a minimum of seven trillion to 10 trillion won, is an abuse of the majority party’s legislative power. It is a risky idea to omit mandatory legal procedures for large-scale national projects, such as advance feasibility study, preliminary feasibility study, and feasibility assessment, and pursue as one wishes. The reason to stipulate such procedures under the National Finance Act, etc. is to ensure the efficient and transparent management of national finance by any administration without waste when it comes to projects that require a large amount of the tax-payers’ money.
In order for the ruling party to resume the new Gadeok Island Airport project, which was ranked lowest in 2016, it should explain the justifiable reasons for the decision and convince the public. From business case assessment to location selection, everything should be reexamined from the starting point. A special law enacted by the power of the majority party does not have procedural legitimacy. It would be legislative dictatorship pretending to be lawful and the destruction of legalism. Who would be responsible in case of a failed airport with huge losses after pouring in the tax-payers’ money? The ruling party should take due steps based on the rules and laws to avoid leaving an example of using the public’s tax as if it's their own personal money.