No more Assembly clashesThe ruling and opposition parties have finally agreed on a new law to improve the process of passing legislation. The framework aims to prevent a repeat of infamous parliamentary brawls and was hammered out in a subcommittee meeting comprising of executive members of the Grand National Party and Democratic Party. The parties hope to pass the bill this year and put it to practice for the new National Assembly after general elections are held in April next year. We hope it marks an end to embarrassing physical clashes among legislators.
It is a major breakthrough for the two parities to finally come to a bipartisan agreement. Negotiations had been stalled due to conflicts of interest.
Over the years, physical clashes among lawmakers broke out regarding the forced passage of controversial legislation. Other times, brawls broke out after opposition lawmakers physically blocked access to meeting rooms to prevent the passage of laws.
In the past, the ruling party clung to its right to railroad bills, while the opposition called for complete abolition of such unilateral authority. Then when the ruling party and opposition had changed roles, they also swapped positions on this issue.
But the two sides made headway. The ruling party more or less surrendered its right to unilaterally pass a bill.
In exchange, it gained a guarantee that the opposition would approve budget bills by the Dec. 2 deadline. The opposition also won the right to filibuster a controversial bill. Also in the agreement: If the speaker’s podium is violated, the member will be referred to the ethics committee.
But concerns remain. The right to filibuster, for instance, is a practice made famous in the U.S. Senate that allows minority members to delay or even prevent a vote by lengthening debate. Few other parliaments apply the practice. Recently, partisan dispute has divided the U.S. Senate and the right to filibuster is abused to stall legislation.
We question if such a practice is applicable to Korean politicians who do not possess restrained debating skills. Ending a filibuster requires approval from more than 60 percent of attending members. In intense partisanship, the debate could go on forever. The right to filibuster should be thoroughly studied.
The ruling and opposition parties should not put the hard-won agreement to waste. They must study and approve the measures.