Stop testing the public’s patience

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Stop testing the public’s patience

The political sector is entirely engrossed in the scandal involving Sung Wan-jong - a construction tycoon who left a streak of evidence that he had paid off politicians for years before he committed suicide - and next week’s by-elections. The political agenda is in de facto hiatus. The legislature must deal with the services advancement act, medical law revision, a bill to ensure transparency and fairness in subcontract deals and many other bills designed to help the economy. It must also reform the government employees’ pension scheme and the anti-graft act. But the pile of work has been shelved because politicians are focusing elsewhere.

At the most recent session of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, concerns were proven right. The entire session was spent grilling Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-an on the Sung Wan-jong scandal. Instead of discussing bills submitted for review, the justice minister was questioned about the ongoing prosecution probe of the former chairman of Keangnam Enterprises and how Sung received two special pardons in the past. The sessions of the Security and Public Administration Committee and the Steering Committee could not even set dates to meet due to disagreement between the ruling and main opposition. The latter demanded that South Gyeongsang Gov. Hong Joon-pyo, Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok, Busan Mayor Suh Byung-soo, and incumbent and former chief presidential secretaries - all implicated to have received money from Sung - be questioned.

Although the ruling and opposition previously agreed to vote on the nomination of Park Sang-ok as Supreme Court justice on April 30, they have not even arranged a date to adopt the report on his confirmation hearing, which must be completed in order for the motion to be submitted for a vote in the National Assembly. House Speaker Chung Ui-hwa warned that he would have to use his power to submit the motion if the opposition refuses to adopt the report on Park’s confirmation hearing. The public employees’ pension reform is another worry. The legislature promised to pass a reform bill on May 6, but a working committee has not been able to reach a consensus on the outline. The legislature is in a standstill.

But the scandal is being investigated by the prosecution, and the work should be left in their hands. Legislators have their own work to do. They are to be blamed for the scandal in the first place. They must not cause further damage to national affairs by neglecting their duty. They should stop testing the public’s patience.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 21, Page 30

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