[EDITORIALS]A cartoon AssemblyHow do they seriously expect to be treated and revered as real legislators? We find it deplorable that the National Assembly's main session stopped debating bills yesterday for lack of a quorum. As a result, the Assembly was a bunch of headless chickens trying to pretend they were lawmakers. The public is understandably upset by the ramifications of this neglect of duty.
There had been worries prior to this session that its main functions would be put on the back burner because the legislators' antennae are attuned to the Dec. 19 presidential election. They should have made an extra effort to dispel those concerns. Instead, legislators put the Assembly last on their agenda. Since its opening on Sept. 2, not one bill has been passed. Now comes the crunch at the end of the session. The assemblymen are more interested in forming new parties and making sure they are aligned with somebody powerful so they can ride the gravy train after the election.
So the Assembly had to approve 76 bills Thursday. At the same time, the Legislation and Judiciary Committee had to review 60 bills. But lacking a quorum, the Assembly could not complete its work. They need 137 members on the floor -- where were the missing 67 needed for a quorum? The Assembly's main session again on Friday experienced a lack of a quorum.
The National Assembly's main session is not a forum where every item of a bill or budget is discussed. It is the last stage of legislation after the details have been scrutinized. But it also should filter out any last-minute errors and glitches. The reality on the floor Friday is that the speaker was busy banging his gavel to shovel through bills, and even that stopped when the majority of lawmakers found something better to do.
The Assembly's negotiating parties have agreed to hold another plenary session on Nov. 14 to review revisions to the National Assembly Act. They should also agree to make public the attendance records of legislators so we can weed out the lazy ones.
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