[OUTLOOK]Assembly is acting unwiselyAmong the candidates in the local elections on June 13, four are members of the National Assembly. The law prohibits assembly members from running in a local election, and the four have already submitted their resignations from the governing body. However, there are some worries that the resignations will not become effective until after the election. Since the Assembly failed to convene on schedule due to differences over electing the speaker, all its business was delayed. National Assembly law says that the resignation of one of its members should be granted by the plenary session of the Assembly when it is open, and when it is not, the speaker of the Assembly grants the resignation. In any case, one should have the speaker's or plenary session's permission to resign.
In many previous cases, one can see that the plenary session or speaker rejected the resignation. And there were cases in which some of the members withdrew their resignation applications. In view of such previous cases, it is anticipated that many problems can arise if the Assembly fails to convene until after the local elections are over. Candidates who fail in the local election can withdraw their resignations and retain their status as assemblymen. It is even possible that they could hold both an Assembly seat and a local government position at the same time. Since the election law stipulates that the candidates should resign from public posts before submission of their applications, doing so can be a direct violation of judicial order. It can also lead the loser to file a lawsuit against the winner.
I would like to ask one principal question: why has the present situation become so complicated? It is because the Assembly members, who were endowed with the solemn obligation to make law, abused their right. The law-making body makes laws that are beneficial to its members' interests. And they often violate these laws. In other words, they tend to completely forget their obligation to the nation.
According to the law, an Assembly member should resign 60 days before the local election in which he is a candidate. The main purpose of this law is to prevent public servants from using the influence of their present position in another election. However, this law says that in a local election, National Assembly members may be allowed to leave their offices right before the election. In other words, it permits them to use their influence during the campaign.
This article is aimed at saving the representative's position in the Assembly in case he fails to be nominated. On the contrary, a local government official, if his election district is identical to the local community where he works, should resign to run in a National Assembly election 180 days before the election. The law is aimed at preventing local politicians from entering the central government body. The present election law protects members of the National Assembly by segregating politicians. It can be perceived as a protective wall for central government politicians; it is contradictory to democracy, which grants equal opportunity to everybody.
Besides the election law, I should criticize the recent slow-down in all the administration's business in the National Assembly. The problem caused by local election could be stopped by speeding up the House meeting process. The Assembly law clearly states that the Assembly should reshuffle the speaker and chairmen of committees five days before the expiration of its last session of the period. However, in this session, none of the members were in a hurry. In fact, they violated the law that they approved, adding to the chaos.
What I ask the National Assembly members to do is not to make splendid campaign promises. What is really needed is for them to keep the law that they passed. Everybody knows that assembly laws governing electronic voting, hearings and clause-by-clause discussion have never been respected. The main news in the National Assembly is its ongoing tug of war. From the calculation that dominance in the Assembly can bring about a positive effect on the presidential election, the parties spend their time in desperate fights.
They should remember how Newt Gingrich had pushed the government of Bill Clinton. As he continued the assaults on the president's private life and even insisted on impeachment, public opinion changed direction. Many Americans became sympathetic to Mr. Clinton because they found Newt Gingrich had gone overboard. Also, the public found that the Republicans focused on useless things that had nothing to do with politics. The result of the election gave absolute support to the Clinton government.
The Assembly members should think about this piece of history.
The writer is a professor of international relations at Kyung Hee University.
by Kim Meen-geon