Time to compromiseThe ruling and main opposition parties are clashing over details after agreeing to start reforming the government employees’ pension program in exchange for probing the Lee Myung-bak administration’s wasteful overseas resources diplomacy projects. The legislature reached bipartisan agreement to form a special committee to overhaul the government employees’ pension scheme within a year. It will separately form a body that would include representatives of the government employees’ union. They also agreed to launch a special committee on so-called resource diplomacy. However, they found reasons to disagree when they got down to details.
The Saenuri Party insists the reform outline for government pensions must be completed by the beginning of February. It said it won’t go into investigations of the past government’s diplomatic projects unless a deadline is fixed for pension reform. The New Politics Alliance for Democracy rejects a deadline, saying that reform work will take at least six months. It criticized the ruling party for putting such conditions on the resources diplomacy probe.
The opposition is wrong about the government employees’ pension plan. The special committee should act only as an adviser. Te legislature is forgoing its own role and responsibility if it relies on outsiders to draw up a law. Many groups have interests in laws and reforms. The legislature acts on behalf of the people and makes laws for the common good. The special committee’s role must not infringe on the legislature’s powers and duties. The opposition party’s earlier proposal to form a committee with family members of the victims who died in the sinking of Sewol ferry to draw up a special law fell through for the same reason.
Reforming the government pension program is a sensitive issue. Government employees who prize their pensions as the best part of civil service vehemently oppose a scaling-down. That is why the legislature must be quick and resolute. There is no need to waste half a year on the work. If the opposition is serious about reform, it should agree to a deadline.
The Saenuri Party demands that the probe of resources diplomacy be extended to the governments of Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Dae-jung. But that is unnecessary. The overseas projects that raised controversy were mostly in the Lee Myung-bak government as they were spearheaded by the president’s brother. The probe should focus on those excesses. JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 13, Page 34