[EDITORIALS]17th Assembly: Nothing new

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[EDITORIALS]17th Assembly: Nothing new

The 17th National Assembly has been a disappointment from the beginning. Many people are already asking what, if anything, distinguishes it from its predecessors.
The new Assembly opened its plenary session June 5, but did nothing except electing the speaker and two deputies. It has been more than two weeks since it opened, but the heads of standing committees have not been elected. The National Assembly Act says these committee heads should be elected within three days of the opening of its plenary session ― in this case, by June 8. In other words, the Assembly has violated its own law.
The governing and opposition parties are still quarreling over such issues as whether to make the Budget and Accounts Committee a standing committee or a special committee, and which party should have the chairmanship of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee. In addition, there is fierce competition among lawmakers of each party vying for the chairmanships. It looks as though state affairs are hostage to fights over hierarchy.
There are many issues that need the immediate attention of the Assembly. While the whole nation is stirred up over the capital relocation, the Assembly watches with folded arms. The dark clouds over the economy are looming larger. The reduction of U.S. forces in Korea and the follow-up measures needed to close the resulting gap in military capability are urgent matters. The third round of the six-way talks on North Korea’s nuclear program will open soon. Food aid to North Korea also needs the Assembly’s attention. The moves of labor herald large-scale labor disputes. We wonder whether the political influence of the governing and opposition parties has already been exhausted.
We are disappointed by these newly-elected lawmakers who repeatedly pledged that they would “change politics and the Assembly completely.” They are now lining up for their bosses or vying to jump ahead in the Assembly hierarchy.
In this entangled situation, issues related to the people’s livelihood are being ignored completely. “The politics of coexistence” seems a remote slogan. The governing and the opposition parties would be well advised not to earn any more of the people’s anger.

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