Wasteful SpeechesThe extraordinary parliamentary session is finally open, but it is moving at a snail''s pace. Monday accomplished nothing but the prime minister''s address, and starting Tuesday, for three days running, each negotiation body representative takes up a day for a speech. Devoting an entire day to a speech lasting 30 to 40 minutes is utterly wasteful. Furthermore, cabinet ministers need to present themselves for four days in a row. It is necessary to review this practice in a bid to tighten parliamentary management.
The representatives'' speeches were introduced in the 6th Assembly and they were written into the National Assembly Law during the 11th Assembly. At the outset, after the president''s New Year''s Address, the representatives of the ruling party and the opposition asked questions. It was a replica of the Japanese Diet; in Japan, at the beginning of each session, the prime minister delivers a speech, followed by questions from each party''s representative. This system does not exist in the United States with its presidency. In Korea, it began in the form of asking questions to the administration, but its nature has undergone changes. Of course, there are some policy questions aiming at the administration, but major contents amount to assaults on the other side. It is difficult to discover the spirit or efforts to reach an agreement on pressing issues.
There were times when the speeches attracted the spotlight. It was during the 12th National Assembly in the late 1980s when the struggle for democratization was catching fire. The opposition parties'' activities were hardly reported, but the news media could publish the speeches by the heads of opposition parties in big letters. Naturally, the opposition took advantage of the platform as a major weapon toward the administration. However, things are different now. The opposition has many arenas to express its views, including press conferences, and the press often extends prominent coverage. Now pressing issues are jostling for attention.
The National Assembly will be open year-round with extraordinary sessions to be held in every other month starting in February. Internal and external situations are not leisurely enough to begin each session with the speeches. If they should be done at all, it will be enough to do them once at a regular session, all crammed in a day.