Who passed this law?The National Assembly finally convened its regular session but was immediately swept up in bickering over a law that has been enacted to improve the legislative system. Under the National Assembly Advancement Act, the speaker of the legislature is restricted from directly submitting a bill to a plenary session - the way majority parties in the past railroaded through legislation that had strong opposition - unless in the case of an emergency.
As the ruling party can no longer push through controversial bills without bipartisan support, the Saenuri Party is proposing to revise the law. Some members argue the law goes against the major rules principle to democracy. They refer to it as a “law to paralyze the legislature” and raise questions about its constitutionality. The opposition naturally responded with anger. The Saenuri Party initiated the law just before the legislative elections last year and now it wants to change it, complaining of their diminished power as a majority.
The law strengthened the voice of minority parties. For instance, a coordination committee to iron out difference over a bill can vote on a decision only when more than two thirds of its members are able to vote. More than three-fifths of all lawmakers, or three-fifths of the members of a standing committee, should agree to a bill being fast-tracked and automatically advanced to a full voting session.
These mechanisms were established to prevent railroading of bills by the ruling party and to put an end to the physical skirmishes and use of violence by the opposition party to stop the passage of bills. In short, the ruling party no longer can pass bills without negotiating with and gaining the cooperation of the opposition. This is what worries the ruling party, which is in a hurry to pass heaps of stalled bills.
But the Saenuri Party is wrong to propose a revision to a law that has barely been tested yet. It should try its best to seek support from the opposition parties on key issues before it questions the effectiveness of the law. The opposition parties must not abuse their newfound authority to drag out the legislative process, especially on bills that are important to the common man. Such actions would put the Assembly in a comatose state, not to mention deepen the public’s distrust of politics.
It is farcical for the ruling and opposition parties to wrangle over a law they agreed upon not long ago. They must immediately stop the bickering and get on with their job of reviewing legislation on the principles of dialogue, compromise and mutual respect.