Child’s play at Assembly

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Child’s play at Assembly

The National Assembly has evidently abandoned its ethics.

Lawmakers, acting like kids on a playground, have allowed outside parties into the National Assembly building, physically clashed to occupy conference rooms, blocked rivals from voting even with TV news cameras rolling, and voted on behalf of other legislators.

As if such brazen acts weren’t bad enough, they stormed out onto the streets, shouting their messages through loudspeakers.

The most serious of these myriad problems involves allowing outside parties into the National Assembly.

Even when Syngman Rhee’s Liberal Party assumed power, outside forces only surrounded the National Assembly and simply threatened lawmakers. Entering the National Assembly building was unthinkable even at that time.

How outside people were able to enter the building recently must be investigated, and those who vandalized it must be severely punished.

Lawmakers are representatives of the people. Each and every member of the National Assembly must be able to express his or her opinions and vote freely. Blocking other lawmakers from voting therefore is a huge crime against democracy.

If ordinary citizens did the same thing, they would be punished accordingly. Such behavior cannot be overlooked when it involves legislators, who are the ones that establish the law after all. In fact, they are more accountable in this regard than the average citizen.

Legislative issues also cannot - and should not - be resolved by taking to the streets. They must be handled inside the walls of the National Assembly.

It’s clear that National Assemblymen are ignoring urgent issues concerning people’s livelihoods, such as the irregular worker issue and the Ssangyong Motor mess. Instead, they rush to attend hearings to berate their political rivals.

This creates a dilemma, as lawmakers start wondering whether the issue is serious enough to give up their seats. Even after submitting letters of resignation, they get paid for expenditures and retain use of government offices. They also get to keep their aides, courtesy of taxpayer money.

All of this is damaging the authority of the National Assembly. It must now investigate the entire incident and publicize the results.

After that, it must get down on its knees before the people and seek forgiveness from them. That is possible only when both the ruling party and the opposition party reflect on their wrongdoings. If they are not capable of doing that, we cannot expect much from the 18th National Assembly going forward.

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