[EDITORIALS]Invitation to abuseIt is clearly abnormal when campaigning for the local council elections, to be held next May 31, is already getting overheated. The reason, however, is not a desire to be of service to the public; the biggest reason for the interest in local council positions is that the salaries paid are now attractive, not just pro-forma payments. The annual salary for legislative posts in small and medium cities and in the district councils of big cities is around 50 million won ($48,200). Provincial and major city legislators can earn about 70 million won.
The National Assembly made the decision to pay these legislators because it wanted to “normalize the system to recruit better candidates for local politics.” The National Assembly claimed that more talented people from many professions would knock on the doors when local legislators’ pay was attractive.
Indeed, there were some problems when local representatives were not paid or paid only a token salary. Wealthy provincial residents sometimes managed to wield a high degree of control over the legislatures.
But it isn’t hard to see through the smokescreen of the Assembly’s stated intent and see the real reason for the change, especially when it made no other efforts to improve the system for recruiting candidates for those offices or to encourage more volunteers to come forward and participate. This is nothing but an act of collusion in which each political party and local hopeful has something to gain.
Once elected to small city or district councils, these legislators will earn a salary the equivalent of a class 4 or class 5 national government officer. In the provincial assemblies and in big city councils, the equivalent salary is that of a class 2 or class 3 national government civil servant. You can earn your living or secure a job for old age at the local council ― and there is not much work to do. No late hours and no pressure from bosses that other salaried workers face.
This is not acceptable for social justice and overheats politics. Even worse is that political parties nominate candidates for those jobs, strengthening the control of the national parties over local politics.
Abuses already abound and will increase. The whole plan to pay local legislators and give the right to nominate candidates to political parties should be scrapped. It does nothing but make candidates lackeys of the National Assembly.
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