[EDITORIALS]More cushy political jobsThe National Assembly passed an electoral district bill yesterday that will increase the number of directly elected representatives by about 15. There is no reason for the change.
The political parties have been engaged in long and boring negotiations in order to rescue lawmakers whose constituencies are about to disappear because of population decreases or to hold onto safe electoral districts. The efforts of the parties and lawmakers to protect their own interests are the real story behind the increase in the number of legislators.
Raising the number in order to save electoral districts with extremely low populations is particularly impractical. Some of the constituencies have populations only a third of others, and the lawmakers from such regions were criticized for having too much power and distorting public opinion. We saw during the Chile trade bill how some lawmakers were more obsessed with their constituencies than the future of our nation.
The National Assembly had 299 seats initially, but the number was decreased to the current 273 in February 2000. It is not the number of lawmakers that matters when representing public opinion. Regardless of the number, the Assembly will be able to represent the voters accurately when the lawmakers are more productive.
Did our Assembly fail to do its job because there were too few lawmakers? The Assembly may not be aware of the people’s abhorrence of politicians. The people said the fewer the better when they talked about legislators. During election campaigns, representatives concentrate on raising illegal campaign kitties. During normal times, they concentrate on political strife. During the last Assembly session, the lawmakers failed to deliberate more than 1,000 bills that were pending.
Each lawmaker also requires significant funding. Legislators are compensated at the same level as ministers. One more lawmaker means the taxpayers will have to cover expenditures for the representative, his office, a car and six aides. Each legislator spends more than a billion won ($854,700) during a four-year term. With 15 more lawmakers, more than 20 billion won will be added to the expense.
We do not need more lawmakers. The Assembly should think again.