Unashamed lawmakersLawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties have only recently stopped fighting. Now they plan to travel abroad, instead of concentrating on state affairs. This brazen move is deeply disappointing.
To lawmakers, overseas travel offers many benefits that are hard to resist. It is a golden opportunity to enjoy the privilege of being a National Assembly representative. All expenses are from the state budget and a lawmaker who doesn’t spend money is regarded as a fool.
Airlines upgrade them to first class, which most ordinary people cannot afford even once in a lifetime. At their destination, staff from the Korean embassy and private institutions there greet them at the airport and pamper them throughout their stay.
The planned trip is the first for the 18th National Assembly. New lawmakers, in particular, who have been mired in fights day and night wouldn’t want to miss this chance to enjoy their status for the first time.
It was only days ago that the ruling party maintained that legislation must be hurried and opposition parties demanded that evaluation of bills must be carried out properly. Now the same lawmakers are to neglect the bills and go on a trip.
So why did they call an extra session of the National Assembly? The agreements on important bills are only temporary and it is highly likely that the lawmakers will resume their fighting again in February. So they should do their homework now and think seriously about how to govern the National Assembly constructively in February.
Of course overseas travel should be undertaken if necessary. But there doesn’t seem to be any urgent reason for this trip. The steering committee, for instance, planned to go to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony but couldn’t get tickets and changed their destination to South America.
One wonders how poor their diplomatic capacity is when they couldn’t get hold of a handful of tickets out of 250,000. If they had good contacts with even a single U.S. lawmaker, they would have been able to avoid this humiliation. It is disgraceful that they expect to be treated well despite being unprepared.
When lawmakers go abroad for work on taxpayers’ money, they must achieve results that contribute to the national interest. They must be well-prepared before a trip and the trip must be evaluated afterwards in briefings. If the trip they are planning is a junket that standing committees take turns to go on once a year, they must cancel it immediately.