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Regression act of National Assembly

Posted September. 03, 2014 22:46,   


An opinion poll found on Tuesday that 66.8 percent of the correspondents want to separate the special Sewol ferry bill and other bills related to people’s livelihood with respect to the prolonged political deadlock over the ferry bill. A majority of people think that the National Assembly should pass bills related to the economy and people’s livelihood as well as the ferry bill. The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy party blocks the passage of other bills, saying, “The special Sewol ferry bill is the most important bill among bills related to people’s livelihood.” Given its approval rating cut in half, it is doing what the public does not want.

The so-called “National Assembly Advancement Act” provides a legal ground for the NPAD party to link the ferry bill and other bills. The official name of the act is the “National Assembly Act” which defines that a controversial bill between ruling and opposition parties requires the consent of at least three-fifths of lawmakers present when submitted to the general meeting of the National Assembly. The act was revised in May 2012 and renamed as an act for the advancement of the National Assembly for the reason that the Assembly speaker’s discharging power leads to a one-sided decision by the majority ruling party and causes violence in case both the ruling and opposition parties disagree over a bill.

Given the current situation, however, the act should be called not the “National Assembly Advancement Act” but the “National Assembly Regression Act.” Rep. Joo Ho-young, head of the policy committee of the ruling Saenuri Party, said on Tuesday, “We’ve almost completed preparation for addressing the problems of the National Assembly Act even by using a constitutional appeal.” He meant that the current National Assembly Act under which the consent of at least three-fifths of the lawmakers is required for the passage of almost all bills violates Article 49 of the Constitution, which says, “Except as otherwise provided for in the Constitution or in Act, the attendance of a majority of the total members, and the concurrent vote of a majority of members present, shall be necessary for decisions of the National Assembly.”

Even with the constitutional appeal, however, no one knows how long it would take for the Constitutional Court to make a decision. In addition, as the decision of the National Assembly is the independence of the legislative body, it cannot be guaranteed that the Constitutional Court would rule that the act is unconstitutional. Revising the act without the help of NPAD is practically impossible because the revision of the act would also require the consent of at least three-fifths of the lawmakers present.

Hwang Woo-yeo, the then former floor leader of the Saenuri Party who took the lead in making the act in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, is also responsible for this. Rep. Chung Ui-hwa, the National Assembly’s speaker, said, “I’m sorry for the people because no bill has been passed since my inauguration. It is impossible to revise the National Assembly Advancement Act during my term.” Rather than simply giving up, the speaker should know that he is the person who needs to take the problems of the act in the public, if not revising it.