Rearranging their prioritiesThe National Assembly will hold a provisional session this month. The public, however, has more concerns than expectations for the assembly, as its regular session turned into a political battle between the government and opposition parties at the end of last year. The result: Officials ended up pushing public welfare bills aside. There is a good chance that we’ll see more of the same in the upcoming session because of the big issue of Sejong City.
The agenda until Feb. 10 includes speeches by the chairmen of the negotiating parties and questions for the government. Politics is a process of reaching an agreement through discussions and negotiations, but the practice of asking the government questions degenerated into long-winded, one-sided speeches a long time ago. There is a need to seriously review how much longer this can continue.
The government decided to present a revision of the Sejong City law in March, but it will nevertheless be difficult to dodge bullets regarding the issue in the National Assembly this time around. The opposition parties, including the Democratic Party, are waiting for the chance to interrogate government officials on the subject. Needless to say, there is a strong need to make efforts to expand the range of understanding - at least a little bit - through serious discussions on national issues between the government and opposition parties. However, the National Assembly must not make the same mistake again of pushing aside other public welfare bills, as it did last time.
There is a huge pile of bills that need to be dealt with urgently. There were 4,808 pending items on the National Assembly agenda as of yesterday. Bills aimed at protecting the working class, such as regulations related to the creation of jobs in agriculture, are of the utmost importance. Along these lines, there are pending laws related to credit cards and protecting workers with pneumoconiosis. There are also bills to protect other elements of society, including laws related to sexually violent crimes, missing children and child care.
There is not much time to hammer out an agreement to dispatch stabilization troops to Haiti and Afghanistan. There are even 14 bills that are still pending despite being judged as unconstitutional or not in accord with the constitution.
The Sejong City issue needs to be discussed thoroughly within the framework of the National Assembly. However, bills directly linked to the working class should not be neglected as the result of too much time and effort spent on political issues.
In order to do this, the government and opposition parties should show off their wisdom by handling bills related to public welfare first and then tackling other issues.