Get back to businessThe 20th National Assembly’s first questioning on state affairs hit a snag upon opening. Most standing committees closed without proceeding further beyond listening to government presentations. Some of the committees headed by ruling party members could not even open because only members of the opposition camps attended.
The ruling Saenuri Party boycotted the government audit sessions and other legislative activities in protest of the legislative approval of the dismissal of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Kim Jae-soo, while the opposition Minjoo Party and People’s Party went on without their ruling counterpart. A Saenuri Party chairman started a “hunger strike,” and in a scene rare in Korean politics, the opposition pleaded the ruling rival to return to regular legislative activities.
For now, there seems to be no breakthrough in the stalemate. President Park Geun-hye, who hates complying with the heavy-handed methods of the opposition, especially on her appointees, won’t likely yield.
Another round of extreme political showdowns wears people down, but bureaucrats and officials from public institutions would be feeling relieved for escaping the grilling from lawmakers. Government audits have long been questioned for effectiveness as the sessions mostly become boisterous with shouts, exhibitionist gestures and lame comments.
The ruling party has the key to solve the deadlock. It must first of all return to the assembly sessions. Disagreement over a cabinet member cannot be that serious of a matter to the extent of disrupting government and political schedule.
It is also ridiculous for the head of the ruling party to go on a hunger strike when the issue involving the dismissal of a minister is strictly up to the floor leader to deal with. It could look like a political sideshow to divert attention from various controversies with presidential aides. The ruling party must address all the controversies as well as its complaint with the house speaker on the floor.
The Minjoo Party also must recall why the people have made it the main opposition. It could receive a public backlash if it uses its power with the number of seats for its political gain. The party turned down speaker Chung Sye-kyun’s proposal to put off the audit schedule to persuade the ruling party members to return. The main opposition has a responsibility to the people and nation and must try to seek a compromise to normalize legislative activities.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 27, Page 30