Hearings Spoiled by Partisanship

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Hearings Spoiled by Partisanship

The disgraceful behavior of both the ruling and the opposition camps in the National Assembly hearings on public funds is maddening. Yesterday for the fourth day running, the hearings continued to get nowhere as the two sides faced off on methods of examining witnesses. There is one more day scheduled, but for all practical purposes the hearings might as well be over, and they have accomplished nothing. Of course, more hearings can be held after the Lunar New Year’s holidays, but if they are conducted in the same way, it is obvious what the result will be.

So far a whopping 110 trillion won has been spent on the restructuring of the financial and corporate sectors, but there is hardly anything to show for it. The main purpose of the hearings was not just to find out who is at fault but to find out what problems there were in creating, allotting and following up on the disbursed funds. The intent should be to avoid the same mistakes in handling the 50 trillion won still to be injected in the restructuring effort, so that we can have the speedy, effective revamping that the Korean economy depends on.

The Grand National Party has made a few claims about what went wrong in administering the funds and why money was wasted. They say the fixed assets of five liquidated banks were sold at ridiculously low prices, and “noneconomic factors” were applied in the selection of the banks to be dismantled. Of course, many of the opposition’s assertions could just be unfounded fault-finding, but the claim made by Kwon Oh-eul, a GNP assemblyman, that the Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation made most of its important decisions only by examining submitted documents is something that should be looked at. But the two sides are too busy bickering to deal with such important issues. This is neglect of duty and betrayal of the mandate given by the people.

This money should not be the object of a dragged-out political battle. It is vitally important to the Korean economy. Letting the hearings end this way is the same as giving the government an indulgence for its sins and will likely lead to repeating the same mistakes. More hearings must be held as soon as the holidays are over, and this time the legislators must do their job right.
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