A misguided gesture

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A misguided gesture

As the worst economic crisis in decades unfolds and almost everyone feels the bite, the National Assembly remains uninspired and insensible.

Legislators gave a scandalous performance of farce and violence over the last couple of months and again we are seeing a replay in this month’s extraordinary session.

Bills necessary to aid the economy and reform the social infrastructure are shelved and ignored as main opposition Democratic Party members continue to boycott committee meetings.

The DP is still holding rallies outside, condemning bills supported by President Lee Myung-bak, threatening it will bar some contentious proposals, like media-related overhauls, from coming up for a vote.

The Grand National Party, to the shame of its 170-seat majority, teeters on a leadership hiatus and lack of direction, allowing itself to be steered away by the minority DP.

It makes one wonder if lawmakers are even watching today’s economic tides.

The DP recently announced it will collect 10 percent of the money given to its legislators each month and donate it to a charity group. Half of the 82 DP members will offer around 900,000 won per head a month.

Frustrated with repeated standoffs and incompetence, many are calling for a serious legislative makeover.

Some even suggest slashing the number of lawmakers by 30 percent.

DP members’ offer to return part of their allowances may be an introspective gesture amid such public criticism. But renouncing allowances is neither smart nor right.

Taxpayers give legislators money to ensure that they concentrate on activities to improve the lives of their constituencies and buttress national development.

Lawmakers, therefore, should live up to the expectations of their voters and make the most of the money to make better laws and keep a close watch on the government and its activities.

If they do their jobs properly by overseeing the budget and government spending, a legislator can save hundreds of billions of won.

If the DP really cares for the people, it should return to the National Assembly’s negotiating table and join hands with the ruling party to examine bills.

Moreover, the lawmakers should use their own money to help the people in need, not the taxpayers’.
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