[EDITORIALS]Counting the blame

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[EDITORIALS]Counting the blame

The failure of the National Assembly to process the impeachment motion against Prosecutor General Shin Seung-nam is an archetype of "sly tactics politics." Only the lawmakers from the Grand National Party, the lone member of the Democratic People's Party and a nonaffiliated lawmaker participated in the vote. Then the governing Millennium Democrats blocked the counting of the vote. The ballot box was subsequently sealed and the motion automatically died. This is a new record of dishonor in Korea's legislative history. Never before was vote counting suspended just because the opposing party's observers did not show up, even though the voting itself had been completed. Instead of rules and principles, the National Assembly resorted to sly tactics and illegal measures and strategies. What comes next is obvious. Politicians are now pointing fingers at each other for the irregular process through which the impeachment motion perished.

In truth, it was unfair of the Millennium Democrats to be present at the plenary session and yet to decide not to participate in the vote. The party also did not send observers for counting the vote, providing grounds for confusion. They raised the controversy whether counting the vote without observers from a certain party was legitimate. The governing party maintained that it was up to the party to decide whether or not to send observers since counting the vote was a right, not a responsibility. But the party cannot escape criticism that it intentionally devised the tactic because it was afraid that the motion might pass. Speaker Lee Man-sup's remark that the Millennium Democrats should have sent observers if they really wanted the votes counted is persuasive. But Mr. Lee's stance that he could not count the votes because the Grand Nationals demanded observers from the ruling party leaves one to wonder whether he may have driven the course of events to an automatic perishing of the motion.

While one can think over the Millennium Democrats' argument that the Grand Nationals opposed counting the vote because they feared they might not win the vote, the Millennium Democrats are more responsible for the irregular process through which the motion was handled. Instead of pointing fingers at the Grand Nationals, the Millennium Democrats should explain and apologize for their refusal to count the votes. The National Assembly should be ashamed that this incident set a bad precedent for votes to be taken in the future, especially those votes that concern dismissal of cabinet members. Because of the impeachment motion, the budget bill which is long overdue is unlikely to sail through this session. The Grand Nationals should be more flexible in administering national affairs. The budget bill and political disputes should be separately considered.
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