Time to grow up

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Time to grow up

Korea’s National Assembly again showed its true colors yesterday.

Although media reform bills represent ways to advance the nation’s media industry, the National Assembly dealt with the legislation using the most uncivilized means.

Since the bills were submitted seven months ago, the leading opposition Democratic Party has refused almost all procedures for discussing and negotiating the issues at a standing committee. The only remaining choice was to have the assembly speaker exercise his authority to put the bills to a vote. Even so, the opposition party blocked the entrance to the plenary session venue with iron chains, to stop lawmakers from the ruling Grand National Party from entering the room.

Members of the National Union of Media Workers, an organization that bears no relationship to the National Assembly, entered the room through windows to join the collective protest by the DP. Some protesters were seen unleashing fire extinguishers on the security guards at the National Assembly.

This certainly is not a one-time event, as the DP has used such tactics in the past.

The party was ravaged in the presidential and general elections, losing its political power and parliamentary authority. The message voters sent was clear: the DP should quickly move away from its ideological fight and adopt progressive practicality.

However, the party unsheathed the “ideological sword” again after the public started to attack the Lee Myung-bak administration. The candlelight vigil over beef imports and former President Roh Moo-hyun’s suicide led DP lawmakers to stage protests on the streets. At the National Assembly, they destroyed facilities with hammers and electric saws, physically attacked Grand National Party lawmakers and frequently commandeered meeting rooms.

The “New Democratic Party Plan,” whereby the party sought growth and welfare over ideology, is long gone. Leaders of the party waged hunger strikes and lawmakers have threatened to step down.

It must be said that the GNP has also displayed immature behavior. Since party members agreed to put the media bills to vote through the assembly speaker, they should have met the quorum for the voting process based on the decision of the majority.

Some lawmakers have urged another round of voting after Lee Yoon-sung, vice speaker of the National Assembly, announced the end of the voting process without even counting the quorum. After seeing such a lack of responsibility, it makes you wonder whether those lawmakers are capable of dealing with crucial national affairs.
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