Get back to businessThe special Sewol law, albeit crucial, cannot be a reason for paralyzing the National Assembly. Once the legislature is in a state of limbo, it can hardly dismiss the repercussions from the shameful record of no legislation whatsoever since the current Assembly convened in July 2012. If the legislature fails to open today, it deserves sarcastic branding as a “legislative body above the law.” All the trouble stems from the opposition’s deep-rooted habit of linking specific legislation to the passage of other bills.
We hope the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy immediately scraps the practice in a general meeting of its lawmakers today and moves on to deal with two other urgent bills - one aimed at settling 2013 fiscal accounts amounting to 349 trillion won ($342.82 billion) and the other aimed at splitting the regular session of the legislative audit of the government into two. The clock is ticking because the legislature must settle accounts before the Sept. 1 deadline. The bill to split the legislature’s regular audit session into two must pass the Assembly today because the first audit session is to begin tomorrow.
The passage of the two bills is urgent because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed to automatically submit next year’s budget bills to the plenary session of the Assembly on Dec. 1. But the legislature habitually broke the rule due to the opposition’s signature strategy of making budget bills hostage to other bills.
The NPAD has proposed a trilateral consultative body, including the families of the victims of the Sewol sinking, to resolve the conflict over the special Sewol law. Of course, the government must listen to the families. But they cannot play the role of legislators. Though the opposition wants the government to take unlimited responsibility for the Sewol disaster, it also must take responsibility for breaking its earlier agreement with the ruling party.
We urge the NPAD to stop its self-destructive action. If it really wants to make an issue of the special Sewol law, it must do it without linking it to other bills. With the political impasse threatening the settlement of accounts and other economic bills related to people’s livelihoods at risk, patience is quickly wearing thin.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 25, Page 34