[EDITORIALS]Legislative Sleight-of-Hand

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[EDITORIALS]Legislative Sleight-of-Hand

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party displayed an astonishing shortcut to prevent defections in the course of a no-confidence motion on Prime Minister Lee Han-Dong and Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs Lee Keun-sik. The party, despite its majority, decided to have only a few trustworthy legislators vote on the measure while telling all others to abstain. Although it may have succeeded in stalling the offensive, the whole affair makes politics even more shabby.

The Millennium Democratic Party justified itself by saying that abstention from voting is also a legitimate form of expressing an opinion. Since there is no law that regulates such behavior, it is not illegal. But the spirit of the National Assembly law, which stipulates that issues related to personnel be decided by secret anonymous vote, lies in protecting lawmakers' personal consciences from being influenced by a party's platform or personal relations. The recent collective abstention, dictated by the leadership and a violation of the secrecy principle, runs against the purpose of the law. Perfect laws and systems are seldom found. Only when laws are implemented in the spirit they were crafted can their authority be maintained. The action has damaged the National Assembly Law.

The exposure of the ruling party's inability to trust its own members will have many ill effects; representatives deemed untrustworthy by the leadership may try to get even. The ruling party looks sordid, although it strongly defends the legality of the move. Is this what comes of having lent out legislators to another party to gain its majority? Power as a political principle is at the heart of the matter. As long as the ruling party obstinately holds onto its artificial majority, politics will unfold tediously. Seriously ill legislators may be wheeled into the chamber to vote; things can go wrong if even one lawmaker is absent. To put an end to this vicious cycle of political antagonisms, the political paradigm must be altered.

The ruling party should show flexibility and accept the reality that it may lose some votes. Win-win politics can burgeon, once free from the preconceived idea that the ruling party must always win.
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