Absences in the Assembly

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Absences in the Assembly

There is a big, glaring hole in the Korean National Assembly today. Five of its 298 lawmakers are on long-term leaves of absence.

All five belong to the main opposition Democratic Party.

Chairman Chung Sye-kyun, Chun Jung-bae and Choi Moon-soon have submitted their resignations to protest the passing of the media reform bills. Jang Se-hwan quit his legislative post over the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the bills.

Chairman Chung is acting as the party chairman in Seoul and other regions, rather than a legislator. Chun, Choi and Jang are touring the nation in a fight to invalidate the passage of the bills.

Lee Kwang-jae was former President Roh Moo-hyun’s right-hand man. When he was arrested for taking bribes from Park Yeon-cha, Lee claimed his innocence and handed in his resignation. Lee is said to be living primarily in Bongha Village.

Chung, Chun and Choi’s staff have all lost their jobs. But since all five men have declined to be paid during their leave, at least their secretaries won’t have to go without pay.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any damage to the public interest, even if they are not being paid. All five men have retained their party memberships but have not engaged in legislative activities. That has dented local voters’ rights to a representative democracy.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly has lost five men in audits and budget review sessions. Their resignations are still untouched, which has a significant impact on people’s confidence in the National Assembly as a whole.

The legislative post is a status granted by the voters. It is also a duty.

When a lawmaker uses such a sacred position as a tool for their political and personal battles, it constitutes a violation of his promise to the voters and also goes against his stated convictions.

The five must end their abnormal dereliction of their duties.

To regain the trust of the voters and repay the National Assembly, they should withdraw their resignation letters and return to their posts.

Lawmakers must stay in the parliament, not on the streets.

Whether one is protesting a decision or claiming one’s own innocence, it must be done at the National Assembly. If the five continue to ignore this course of action, then there will be few other options.

They either must return or the National Assembly must accept their resignations.

One way or another, the Assembly must return to its normal state.

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