[EDITORIALS]Mixing Maternity and PoliticsWitnessing the ruling and opposition parties' handling of the revision of the Maternity Protection Act is disturbing. The three parties in the ruling coalition, including the Millennium Democratic Party, gave lukewarm support to the revision, proposing to delay enforcement by two years. The opposition Grand National Party argued belatedly to execute the revision as soon as possible. It is lamentable that the ruling coalition rushed to approve a bill that will only be implemented after two years. It is normal to draft, approve and revise laws whenever the need arises. If a law to be enforced years later is approved, revisions may be required at the time of implementation. The ruling camp deserve criticism for making these moves to win the votes of women in the upcoming local and presidential elections.
It is not difficult to find a precedent in which the Assembly approved laws that are to be enforced some years later. The Assembly promised in 1994 to implement medical reform in five years time. The reform was postponed again for one year in 1999. Our society is suffering from the repercussion of these delays. In 1997, the Assembly revised the Labor Union Act prohibiting employers from paying employees who work full-time union staff starting January1, 2002. Yet, in February, the Tripartite Commission of the Labor, Management, and the Government postponed the enforcement to 2007. Such cases show that bills adopted for "enactment first, enforcement later" are political maneuvers. If the Maternity Protection Act follows these precedents, there may be less pressure from interest groups for a while. Yet, more conflict and distrust will soon arise. The opposition is no different from the ruling camp. When reporters questioned the official view of the GNP, they gave no definite answer. However, with feminists and unions strongly criticizing the ruling party, the opposition belatedly issued a statement condemning the ruling parties' action. Both ruling and opposition parties behaved out of concern for next year's election. If the law cannot be enforced now, politicians should persuade feminists and labor unions to press for the law at the right time. If it has to be enforced now, then the bill should be revised to accommodate current needs and the parties should come up with plans to financially support the law.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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