Assembly absurdityThe National Assembly has, once again, reaffirmed its absurdity. The February extraordinary session ended Tuesday, with a failure to vote on 39 of the 68 bills submitted at the main session. This is the joint work of the Grand National Party’s incompetence and the Democratic Party’s stubbornness.
The situation began when Democratic Party Representative Ahn Min-seok’s bill on student athletes was voted down. This bill seeks to limit student athletes from entering a competition if they fail to prove their academic ability. GNP Representative Park Young-ah questioned the bill’s effectiveness and cited procedural flaws.
When the bill was voted down, enraged Democrats left the chamber and the session went into a recess. Four hours later, the GNP and Pro-Park United agreed to reopen the session, but only 90 Grand Nationals showed up. Because the legislature failed to meet a quorum, no voting could take place.
The Democrats said they walked out because of a breach of trust. They said the bill had won bipartisan support at the standing committee.
The National Assembly has a three-step deliberation process of reviewing and voting on a bill at a subcommittee, a standing committee and then the main vote. The passage at a standing committee is based on member lawmakers’ expertise, while voting at the main session means verifying and confirming that it fits average Koreans’ standards.
Furthermore, the bill in question was not grounds for the largest opposition party to walk out of a voting session. Each lawmaker is a constitutional entity, but the DP showed no respect for individuals’ judgments.
It is actually more lamentable to witness the sloth of the 169 GNP lawmakers. In early February, they selected 114 bills focused on employment and jobs, vowing to pass them. Yet 79 GNP lawmakers went missing when the vote came.
Many of them probably thought it was more important to attend a party for a senior politician who will run in the June local elections. But that is a clear negligence of duty.
The GNP already had a similar precedent when it failed to reach a quorum in a special budget committee when voting on a 4.27 trillion won ($3.7 billion) budget supplement in 2008.
Now the people will have to endure the aftermath. Among the 39 bills not voted on, many are linked to the economy and jobs.
The April session doesn’t look promising. When the bills to revise the Sejong City development plan are submitted, the legislature is destined to face turmoil.
Lawmakers must remember that there is no excuse to neglect legislative activity, because that is what they’re paid to do.