Betraying public trustRuling lawmakers staged a sit-in protest outside the office of Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun. The hearings on appointments and killer humidifier sterilizers turned dysfunctional with only the ruling party members present. The National Assembly was in disarray.
The stalemate was caused by a speech by the house speaker who criticized the government’s policy on North Korea and decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad). He also called for the creation of an independent investigative body to prevent crimes and corruption by senior government officials, a reference to the scandal involving Woo Byung-woo, senior presidential civil affairs secretary.
The two issues are highly sensitive. Seoul has been waging diplomatic warfare with Beijing over the strategic decision to install an antimissile system to enhance deterrence and protection against North Korean nuclear and missile threats. Different polls show that half of the population supports the deployment. It is wrong of the head of the National Assembly to publicly make a comment that can work favorably for Beijing’s interests.
The house speaker must act as the fair referee and administrator in the political field in charge of making laws, policies and fiscal spending. The National Assembly requires the house speaker to disown a certain party title because the position requires strict political neutrality.
Chung maintains that his comments represented the views of the people. But the speaker on the podium must not make judgmental, controversial and unfair comments. He must apologize for his actions and promise not to repeat it.
The ruling Saenuri Party has also acted childish. Although the house speaker’s comments were not appropriate, it should not have jumped at the opportunity to railroad a bill and commit collective and physical action for political gain. It will only draw public ire.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 3, Page 26