The Democratic Party of Korea is determined to pass 15 bills before the ongoing National Assembly session ends. The ruling party argues it will practically be the last chance to legislate given that presidential election campaigns will begin in the second half of 2021. The problem is all the 15 laws it wants to pass are controversial, including the Corruption Investigation Office (CIO )Act, the National Intelligence Service (NIC) Act, the Police Act, the May 18 Democratic Uprising Act, the act on major industrial accidents and three regulations that affect businesses.
It is difficult to justify the revision to the CIO Act, which aims to take the right of veto away from the opposition parties, as the original law has not even been implemented. The CIO will become nothing but a servant if the ruling party can nominate the head of the office. The revised NIC Act, which transfers the authority to investigate North Korea’s intelligence operations over to the Police, would risk national security unless loopholes are closed. The Police Act, which will integrate the police at the national level, does not specify how the police will be kept in check, while revising the Special Act on the May 18 Democratic Uprising that penalizes acts of distortion of the movement is not deemed entirely necessary.
The three regulations on businesses, which are the commercial law, the fair trade law and the financial group supervision law, include radical clauses that have never been adopted by other countries, which causes concern that South Korean companies facing stiff competition in overseas markets might lose competitiveness. In July, the ruling party pushed through the Rent Act while disregarding criticism for being dogmatic. Their rationale was that it would stabilize the housing market for the public, and we know how it has gone down since then. The law that was formulated based on ideologies and beliefs brought about the worst rent disaster in history because no effort was made to minimize any possible side effect.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea can pass the 15 bills as it has the majority of the seats in the National Assembly. However, majority rule is only a part of democracy. Democracy can quickly turn into autocracy of the majority without deliberative democracy, which places an emphasis on listening to opinions of the minority and reaching a consensus. Most bills appear to have potential issues, while it is unclear if there is a consensus among the public about them. If bills need improvement, the ruling party should work together with the opposition parties and those who will be affected by the new bills to enhance them no matter how long it takes. Considering the huge impact every law has on people’s lives, how a law is enacted matters as much as legislation goals. The ruling party should bear in mind that rushing through legislation will bring about a negative impact that will be difficult to undo and divide the nation even further.