A promise badly broken

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A promise badly broken

The National Assembly’s behavior is increasingly disappointing. The opposition Democratic Party says it will break its promise to consider a bill, made three months ago.

“Since the ruling Grand National Party has failed to collect public opinion, a prerequisite for passing the media reform bill, we thereby announce voting on the measure has been entirely nullified,” said the party.

Although National Assembly speaker Kim Hyong-o called on floor leaders of both parties on Thursday for mediation, he found the two parties have widely conflicting views.

The March 2 agreement was made between the heads of both parties. They agreed to have a three-month period to collect public opinion and vote on the bill at this month’s extraordinary session of the National Assembly.

At the same time, the so-called Media Development National Committee was formed as an advisory unit under the Committee on Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting & Communications. Ten lawmakers from both parties were supposed to submit reports after 100 days of research. But opposition lawmakers announced the suspension of their activities on Wednesday, claiming the committee hasn’t conducted any opinion polls.

The following day, party floor leader Lee Kang-rae broke the March agreement.

It is hard to understand how the media committee hasn’t collected views from the public. It has held 18 meetings involving all its members and seven public hearings in Seoul and other regions. It is true that committee members have engaged in debate, failing to reach a conclusion. However, opinion polls would simply provide a reference.

Deciding on whether to legislate media bills is up to all lawmakers, not only the members of the media committee. Besides, it’s hard to agree with the view that opinion polls are supposed to be the determining factor in policy making. If a bill was to be decided based on an opinion poll, the media committee would not have been necessary. This brings us to the questions of why political parties exist and what are the roles of the National Assembly and lawmakers.

Even more problematic is the attitude of the Democratic Party. How can a political party gain public confidence if its chief overthrows a promise already made?

If an opinion poll was that important, the DP could have done one on its own. We hope that someday the party which had the recent experience of serving as a ruling entity for a decade will return to the National Assembly.
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