[VIEWPOINT]Real reform for the Assembly

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[VIEWPOINT]Real reform for the Assembly

It shouldn’t be this way. What is politics for? Didn’t candidates ask us to send them to the Assembly just yesterday, promising proper politics? Those who promised to introduce a “clean Assembly,” which would put an end to the old practices and strive for only productive jobs, opened the new National Assembly only to repeat the same fruitless efforts for a month.
The Assembly didn’t seem to exist for a few months after the presidential impeachment in March. Piles of legislation waited for passage, and many government programs were delayed because it did not give its approval, but lawmakers ignored all this. On the same day they agreed to form standing committees, the Assembly only repeated the old practices of embracing its own members. There was neither a border between the governing party and the opposition nor a difference between conservatives and liberals when it came to saving their colleague who was issued an arrest warrant for violating the election law.
They said: The past was filled with mistakes. Senior politicians committed them. We can do better. Because there is no future without political reform, help us form a new party for new politics even if it may be an eyesore for the time being. We conducted political activities in a tent to show repentance. We rented a party office at a market, so do you know our determination to pursue new politics? Political reform and changes are our capital. Believe us, please!
So, we wanted to believe. We thought politics would be a little different because advocates of political reform and change entered the political arena. To the people who have lived with this hope, what the 17th Assembly has shown from the outset is close to indiscriminate violence. They are embarrassed by the collapse of their expectations as if receiving a big blow.
The lawmakers’ pledge for new politics was an empty one, or they lacked the creativity for new politics and the ability to seek alternatives. It is truly heartbreaking to question the sincerity of those who advocated political reform or said they would reflect on the past and start anew. Even worse, they have neglected accumulating preventive remedies so as not to be hurt again when we escape from political turmoil.
What country would be promised a smooth and flexible parliamentary operation from the beginning? Other countries differ from us in that they have accumulated remedies against the repetition of the same mistakes once they overcame them. When it failed to appoint standing committees, the Canadian parliament reorganized parliamentary rules, notably the selection of the chairman.
Concerning the selection of heads of standing committees, once the committees are formed, the number of members is allocated to each committee mechanically in proportion to the seats of negotiating groups, and the members have only to select the heads by voting. If they have to waste time striving for power before forming a new Assembly, they have only to reflect these procedures in the parliamentary rules.
Lawmakers’ privilege against arrest should not be acknowledged when they are accused of violating election laws or corruption. The intent of the privilege is not to protect these cases.
In the Assembly, there is a saying that the rule that rules the least is the best rule, but to be so, certain rules should be prepared regarding frequently contentious tasks. Here lies the reason for urgently launching an organization like a national parliamentary reform committee, which can check out the entire Assembly from a neutral perspective and suggest alternatives.

* The writer is a professor of public administration at Sookmyung Women’s University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Park Jae-chang
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