What have we achieved?

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What have we achieved?

The fistfights and hammer wielding in the National Assembly’s latest extraordinary session have ended. The Democratic Party has agreed to end its occupation of the assembly’s main floor, and the ruling and opposition parties have said they will not make a decision on the most disputed bills until February.

The National Assembly has resumed normal business, but the aftermath of the latest debacle will be felt for a long time.

First, the authority of the National Assembly has plummeted to an unprecedented low. Scuffles and quick passage of bills have always been a hallmark of the assembly, but it has never been treated like a refugee camp with sit-in protests continuing for such a long period of time.

Another problem stems from the issue of congressional aides and other party workers. They have often been party to violent scuffles among lawmakers but they have never forcibly occupied the assembly floor and assaulted the police guards who try to stop them.

The National Assembly, after all, is a stage for lawmakers. But its authority has been crushed by young aides and party employees. How are we going to stop their collective actions from now on?

The violence demonstrated by the lawmakers was appalling. The legislators armed themselves with hammers, chainsaws and even fire extinguishers.

Even after all the bloody hubbub, the National Assembly is left with nothing but a delay of discussions on the most disputed bills. The ratification of Korea-U.S. free trade agreement has been pushed to some time after February, which makes us wonder why Democratic Party members signed the pact when they were in power under the previous administration and why the Grand National Party tried to take the bill to a final vote by forgoing approval from the assembly committee in December.

The government and the Grand National Party have insisted that no time should be wasted to pass the new media law and other legislation to ease restrictions on ownership of financial companies and cross-ownership among companies under the same conglomerate. But now they have compromised their stance and, under threat from the Democratic Party, agreed to postpone all the decisions on the bill to February.

Our parliamentary democracy is floundering while the inert GNP and the National Assembly Speaker fail to take decisive actions and the Democratic Party boasts of their violent threats like a medal of honor.
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