[EDITORIALS]Curbing Assembly perksPoliticians are actively engaged in discussions on how to reform the National Assembly. The plans currently under consideration by political parties suggest that the upcoming Assembly will be very different from the old ones.
Our Open Party, which holds a majority of seats, plans to limit the lawmakers’ exemption from liability and immunity from arrest during a session within the boundaries of the Constitution. The Democratic Labor Party has also prepared a similar plan. Politicians are also discussing plans to hold sessions throughout the year and to establish multiple standing committees. Integration and restructuring of the National Assembly Secretariat is also foreseen.
Politicians are also discussing a plan to curtail excessive privileges and favorable treatment given to legislators. Measures under consideration are: stop using free transportation by railroad and ship; stop receiving overseas business travel expenses and preferential treatment similar to that which ministers receive; and stop using the VIP lounge at the airport.
It is a desirable change that politicians want to surrender the legislators’ privileges voluntarily and reinforce their roles as policymakers. Through such a change, the National Assembly will become more productive and more approachable by the people. When lawmakers stop making groundless disclosures and protecting each other from corruption investigations, the people will have a drastically improved perception of the Assembly.
But all the changes do not have to be “against” the lawmakers. Authority critical for legislators’ performance must not be curtailed. The remedy can be worse than the evil if the lawmakers lose the ability to assess legislation and budgets in an attempt to cut their privileges. If lawmakers were blocked from opportunities to bare corruption and mishaps in the administration, it would be a change for the worse.
The constitution provides for immunities within reason. Disarming the National Assembly could encourage the abuse of power by the already strong presidency.
The reforms must meet global standards to make the changes sustainable. The Assembly should study other countries’ practices.