This is no way to conduct nation’s business
The 18th National Assembly, which has shown neither dignity nor productivity in legislation, is disappointing voters even in its final days.
Political parties failed to open a one-day plenary session Tuesday, aimed at passing dozens of vital bills for people’s livelihoods, over their differences on the proposed law to advance parliamentary operations.
Major parties are making another attempt through a compromise on the ``anti-clash bill,” which calls for introducing filibuster, fast-tracking and other devices to prevent majority parties’ ramming through bills and its physical blockade by minority groups.
The parties must succeed in their last-minute efforts, or the 18th Assembly will have to make a most disgraceful exit into history. Disappearing with it are 6,450 unattended bills ― the highest ever, accounting for 45 percent of the total 14,724 ― which will be automatically scrapped when this Assembly’s term ends on May 29.
Among them are about 160 bills that passed related standing committees amid strong bipartisan support and could become law with just the banging of a gavel. It defies understanding why and how these lawmakers have come to put matters on their legislative procedure ahead of issues closely linked to the public’s security and convenience in their daily lives.
Because of the partisan bickering and legislative dereliction of duty, voters will continue to only buy over-the-counter medicines at drugstores, not at supermarkets as is the case in most countries; police will not be able to trace women in personal danger quickly; maritime police officers will be under an undiminished threat of illegal, violent Chinese fishermen; and small business owners’ sufferings from high-handed large companies will go on with little change.
The outgoing Assembly’s irresponsibility is in stark contrast to the unity and swiftness shown in passing bills that many working-class Koreans deem as unhelpful for their livelihoods, such as those which gave huge tax cuts for big businesses and wealthy individuals; allowed family-controlled conglomerates to advance into all kinds of businesses formerly belonging to small firms; let the government enhance its control on media outlets; and one-sidedly approve the controversial Korea-U.S. free trade agreement with little amendment.
We know there are debates over how much legislation the outgoing Assembly should make in the one-and-a-half month lame-duck session, with a considerable portion of the incumbents defeated or retiring.
Still, the remaining month or so is an opportunity the current Assembly should not miss to make up for its messy, inefficient performance. Lawmakers must show last-minute productivity during the final days of their four-year contract with the people.
It was only a few days ago the majority leader praised the anti-clash bill as a ``historic” agreement. There can be only two reasons ― both inexcusable ― the ruling Saenuri Party is reversing its position; it didn’t read the bill carefully and/or it changed its mind after maintaining a majority in the April 11 elections. Rep. Park Geun-hye, its de facto leader and likely standard-bearer in December’s presidential poll, must know a final victory is far from assured.
There is precious little time for the Assembly to regain its reputation even a little. All’s well that ends well.