[EDITORIALS]Assembly boondogglesAs the nation faces the summer holiday season, legislators are heading overseas one after another, and the public is irritated by such trips.
There has been repeated criticism about lawmakers enjoying trips to foreign countries with public money. And some of the legislators of this Assembly, who were elected with slogans of a “new politics,” are repeating the bad practice.
Foreign travel by legislators is sometimes necessary. Korea can no longer ignore the wave of globalization. It is necessary for us to find out what the issues are that advanced countries pay attention to, and how they manage their countries, in what way they resolve social conflicts, and how they harmonize the problems of economic growth with welfare. We have to see what kinds of exceptional measures China has taken to attract foreign investments. We must see ourselves how actively China is moving to catch up with Korea and to stand in the center of the world history.
For the new Assembly, in which over 60 percent of the members are in their first term and many young members have no experience of foreign travel, overseas travel is extremely important. But legislators must see, feel and learn lessons from their trips. They must not go on a trip without a purpose. They should no longer disturb Korean embassies around the world.
If the lawmakers fill up their travel itinerary with golf and other leisure activities, they should be criticized for enjoying summer vacations with tax money.
If it was inevitable to accept outside help for their trips, they must spend the funding transparently. The National Assembly cannot function properly when lawmakers’ trips are funded by organizations that are under the Assembly’s control or that have business before the Assembly.
And returning legislators should at least write a report to the Assembly speaker about their trip and make public whom they met and what they have learned.
Unconditional criticism about legislators’ overseas travels is anachronistic. We do not want our elite politicians to become shortsighted. But we have a condition for their overseas trips.
They should learn something from their travel.
If our lawmakers provide vision and draft their bills based on their lessons from the trips, who wouldn’t encourage such travel?