Pass the bills before too lateThe people have sent a clear message through by voting during the last election: they are sick and tired of a legislature that is forever wrangling rather than lawmaking. But from what we have seen so far, politicians have learned little. Cooperation and compromise is essential to run a parliament on a three-party system. But the three parties have already returned to bickering, raising concerns about the legislature’s future.
The Saenuri Party is in a mess without leadership, following the landslide election defeat. Won Yoo-chul, the floor leader, was recommended as interim leader, but the choice as been vehemently opposed by minority factional lawmakers and lawmakers-elect. The ruling party lost its rank as the majority party largely because of public disapproval of President Park Geun-hye’s domineering and narrow-minded governance style and the arrogant and kowtowing ways of her political followers. Won had been at the center of the loyal pack. Placing him to run a party in an emergency state suggests that the party has learned nothing. The party is headed for a breakdown. The attempt to bring back the seven elected lawmakers who bolted after losing their candidacy is also shameful. The factional divide has wrecked the party, but the two rivaling factions are continuing to wrangle over bringing back the lawmakers. The two other parties are equally disappointing. The Minjoo Party ascended to the largest party position, and the People’s Party became the third-largest, because they promised that they would work towards improving lives. The Minjoo Party won votes by reinventing its image as a party that can fix the economy. But the first issues it raised after the election were all politically contentious ones, like the special law on the Sewol ferry disaster and opposition to the nationalization of history textbook publication.
The Minjoo Party supported the idea when the rival co-head suggested a hearing to probe state management by the incumbent and former conservative governments. The opposition has returned to its old contentious and anti-government activist ways. Factional divides have led the two oppositions to compete with controversial agenda. Korea is mired in economic and security complexities. North Korea is feared to be preparing for a fifth nuclear test, and the industrial sites and dockyards in the southern coastal regions are a wreck. Exports are sinking and growth estimates are being shaved. The 20th National Assembly should not wait until it formerly opens. It must demonstrate to the people that it will be different. It must attend to economic affairs first. The four labor-related bills and the act to promote the services sector cannot wait, as they could be automatically scrapped after being shelved for more than four years. Both the ruling and opposition parties must prove that they have learned a valuable lesson and get their acts together.
JoongAng Ilbo, Apr. 20, Page 30