Put Sejong plan to full voteA new decision on Sejong City is set for a National Assembly vote, but it must first pass a major stumbling block. The ruling and opposition parties have agreed to a vote by the standing committee. The committee is mostly comprised of opposition party members and loyalists to former Grand National Party chairwoman Park Geun-hye, who stubbornly opposes any revision to the original plan for Sejong City to be a secondary administrative center. Without a surprising upset, the government’s new proposal is likely to be disapproved by the standing committee. Under Article 87 of the National Assembly Law, 30 parliamentary members may submit a bill to seek a vote in the National Assembly even if it is rejected by the standing committee. This is the plan for supporters of Lee Myung-bak. The opposition and pro-Park members naturally oppose the plan. The decision is formally up to the National Assembly speaker, but a full house vote traditionally needs prior agreement between the ruling and opposition parties.
A blueprint for Sejong doesn’t just involve a particular region, but is a matter that can affect the country’s future. Leaving a decision as grave as this to some 30 members of a standing committee cannot be right. As a result, the bill should be thoroughly examined by the full National Assembly. Lawmakers should be free from political commitments to vote with their conscience on the country’s future. They must answer to history in making their vote. The public is entitled to know where elected lawmakers stand on grave national matters.
Democratic Party floor leader Park Jie-won rebuked the plan by some ruling party members to subject the matter to a National Assembly vote, saying they are oblivious to the public consensus. But election results do not serve as a simple uniform gauge for state affairs. Consensus differs by region and the public will respect a decision by the entire National Assembly, not a certain number of executive party members. GNP Rep. Lee Jung-hyun of the pro-Park faction said he cannot understand why some of his peers insist on taking a vote on the revision plan since it can only damage their reputation as politicians who abandoned their promises to the public. But the new legislation proposed by the government is meant to revise a flawed plan that can seriously undermine administrative governance. Only history will tell whether the revision was right or a second administrative city can work. It is not up to a few lawmakers to decide what the future will hold. The National Assembly must take on their collective responsibility. If opponents really believe the original outline will work, then they have no reason to avoid a full house vote.