A headstrong veto

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A headstrong veto

President Park Geun-hye exercised an executive branch veto against a bill revising the National Assembly law that allowed lawmakers to hold hearings whenever they deem necessary. Under the bill, a hearing could take place upon the request of more than one-third of lawmakers in a standing committee or when the committee approved the need for a hearing. The bill was passed by the last legislature, mostly through support from the opposition camp.

Park’s veto drew strong protests from the opposition and renewed conflict between the president and legislature. A Cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn concluded that the right to demand hearings throughout the year would mean the legislature was out to control the administration. But resorting to a veto instead of discussing ways to compromise with lawmakers suggests the president has not changed her habit of one-sided decision-making.

A veto technically is the president’s return of the bill back to the legislature for reconsideration. The National Assembly is obliged to vote again on the bill under the Constitution. A new vote would require at least three days after a notice is placed. The call for a new vote arrived at the National Assembly two days before the term of the 19th legislature ended. While on an African tour, Park electronically signed the veto. She has made it impossible for the National Assembly to comply with her demand within the legal time.

The Minjoo Party of Korea and People’s Party cannot be blamed for declaring a war. The president could have made her move after she returned and waited for the new legislature to open for business. She has set the new legislature off to a contentious start through her rash and headstrong actions.

Even without revising the law, the two liberal parties control enough seats to demand hearings whenever they want. They will command majorities in standing committees. The law actually would be meaningless in the new legislature. The president has rocked the boat over nothing. The liberals, too, should regain calmness, as the success of the 20th legislature hinges on their political leadership and judgment.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 28, Page 26
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