What are they afraid of?Four bills concerning the revised plan for Sejong City were voted down by the National Assembly’s Committee on Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, due to strong objections from the opposition Democratic Party, the Liberty Forward Party and the faction of the ruling Grand National Party that supports Park Geun-hye. The revised plan is aimed at turning Sejong City into a place of education, science and economy.
Although the revised bills have been thwarted this time, the revision plan is not dead yet. GNP lawmakers plan to demand a final vote at the plenary session of the National Assembly, which is permissible with the agreement of more than 30 lawmakers.
The opposition parties and the GNP’s pro-Park faction have rejected the proposal, but their argument is not persuasive. They claim that their victories in three Chungcheong regions in the last local elections represent the desire of the people and, with the committee’s rejection of the bills, the National Assembly has already expressed its decision.
The June 2 local elections were not about the central government’s Sejong project. It was a selection of leaders of local governments. As the Sejong City project deals with whether or not to separate the administrative branch of government, it is a national issue. When you survey people’s view of the revised plan, over 50 percent of respondents support it. It makes little sense to link the elections in the three Chungcheong regions to the fate of Sejong City.
Similarly, it is irrational to leave such an important decision to such a small group of people - the 20 to 30 members of the standing committee.
Since the establishment of our National Assembly in 1948, 32 out of 36 bills have gone through the plenary session after having been rejected.
Laws or precedents are important, but no less important is the creation of a record of what happened in the Assembly.
Advocates for the original plan assert that the promise made by two former presidents and two administrations should be kept. But politicians can make mistakes, and it would be a mistake to divide the government’s administrative functions into two. President Lee Myung-bak, who called the original plan problematic, suggested a revision, and a majority of the public supports his decision.
When a decision on such a serious issue is made, it should go through the appropriate procedures. The lawmakers supporting the original bill need only to cast their votes. History will determine who was right. What are the bill’s opponents afraid of?