National Assembly Late Again?The sixteenth session of the National Assembly will likely miss its scheduled opening date of June 5 due to internal bickering between the ruling and opposition parties. The fifteenth session was stalled for four months in much the same manner and it has left a wary public wondering whether or not it has a National Assembly.
The Assembly opened the temporary fifteenth session in June to process election laws, largely ignoring the pressing domestic issues that had been left unaddressed during the period of dormancy. The National Assembly is responsible for handling 100 trillion won ($89.7 billion) in public funds earmarked for financial restructuring, as well as deciding whether an additional fund of 20 trillion won ($17.9 million) will be necessary.
There are a number of urgent issues to be resolved, including the South-North summit meeting and alleged illegal lobbying in arms deals and the high-speed train project. These and other issues will likely not see the light of day in the near future, even if the National Assembly does convene on May 30, the first day for newly elected lawmakers,
The possible delay in the sixteenth session is expected to come when the current floor leaders of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and the Grand National Party (GNP) turn over their responsibilities to the newly elected leaders. If history repeats itself, the session will not open as scheduled.
The GNP plans to hold an internal session to elect its president on May 31 and floor leader on June 2. However, it would be a miracle if the floor leaders were organized within two days, taking into account the ongoing animosity that exists between the two parties.
The MDP is blaming the delay on the internal session of the GNP, while the GNP is laying the responsibility on the MDP for trying to avoid the National Assembly session before the summit meeting planned between South and North Korea. If this finger-pointing continues, people can expect the National Assembly to resume after the South-North summit.
This is not the time for a war of words between ruling and opposition parties. Settling all the accumulated domestic concerns and foreign policies of our nation would be an achievement, even if the ruling and opposition parties were making their best efforts to collaborate.
The National Assembly must resume operations as soon as possible, rather than wait for the opening date designated by the law.
The qualifications of the sixteenth session of the National Assembly will be in doubt if it fails to observe the opening date. The floor leaders have never been organized on schedule since the tenth session. The National Assembly must advance the opening date of the session to improve the condition of our nation and resist the urge to succumb to tedious bickering.
by Eum Sung-jik