[EDITORIALS]Assembly needs to workThe National Assembly’s regular session ended yesterday and an extra session begins today. But it is uncertain whether lawmakers are opening the session in order to work or to protect their colleagues from the prosecutors’ investigation into political funds.
The extra session effectively will be the last one of the current National Assembly. Considering past history, it will become hard for the current Assembly to operate normally next year with a general election scheduled in April. In that case, numerous bills that need to be acted upon as soon as possible will be automatically abrogated and those issues will have to be discussed again at the beginning of the next Assembly.
Fortunately, Assembly Speaker Park Kwan-yong has pledged to present the bill for the ratification of a bilateral free-trade pact between Korea and Chile. But it is not the only issue that needs to be settled without delay. Unless the bill to revise the National Pension Act passes the Assembly in this session, the reform of the national pension system will be delayed until 2008, causing the pension fund serious financial difficulties. The bill to abolish the hojuje, or male-oriented family registration system, is in danger of being automatically abrogated because it has not even been presented in the plenary session. There are scores of bills that need to be acted on urgently.
The Assembly’s regular session was said to be limping along mainly because of the conflicts over the special counsel to investigate three former Blue House aides. But, even after the issue was settled, the Assembly has been at a standstill since the lawmakers, with the general election close at hand, were focusing their attention on certain interest groups with many votes, rather than on the future of the nation. For example, a committee gave up presenting the bill for the free-trade pact with Chile, considering the votes of farmers, and recommended that Mr. Park bring it up for a vote.
The Assembly should settle those important issues in this session in order to forestall problems for the public stemming from their delay.