Last chance for lawmakersThe last special session of the 19th National Assembly — the worst ever — convened yesterday. It’s the last opportunity for lawmakers to regain their prestige and honor. Despite each party’s vow to deal with livelihood-related bills quickly, we deeply worry if they really can keep the promise.
Currently, 93 out of more than 1,000 bills are pending at the Legislation and Judiciary Committee after each standing committee passed them. If they pass through the mighty committee, they could be put to a vote at a plenary session of the Assembly. However, even though many of them are undisputed between the ruling and opposition parties, they are still in limbo even after the April 13 general election. Also, eleven revised bills — including the one on rewarding our independence fighters — can directly go to the plenary session after postponement due to the late arrival of head of Ministry of Patriots & Veterans Affairs at a judiciary committee meeting. An amendment to medical laws, which would ban reuse of disposable syringes, and other bill aimed at promoting patients’ rights in medical accidents are not apposed by any parties.
Other bills on the prevention and management of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and on financial support for Korean victims of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are no different. Amendments to the Military Procurement Law and Homeland Reserve Forces Law are also waiting for deliberations at the judiciary committee. Unless they pass through the committee, lawmakers of the 20th Assembly must start all over. The last extraordinary session of the current legislature must deal with those bills with no disputes, if legislators do not want to repeat such unnecessary procedures.
They must act actively. Each party’s position on contentious issues did not change. While the ruling Saenuri Party wants to pass Cyberterror Prevention Act and four bills on labor reform as one package, the oppositions Minjoo Party of Korea and People’s Party put priority on the Sewol Ferry Special Act and Home Renters Protection Act. But there are bills that have room for compromise. For instance, the Special Act on Regulation-Free Zone can be passsed immediately if only they delete an article on big companies’ penetration into barbershops and beauty parlors in neighborhood.
We expect our politicians to demonstrate the spirit of concession and compromise. The results of the April 13 election demand they tackle national challenges through negotiation. In the newly created three-party system, a party that prioritizes the public good over outdmoded causes will stand tall. The last legislative session is a litmus test to see if they really can do so.
JoongAng Ilbo, Apr. 22, Page 30