The National Assembly disapproved the motion on arresting Rep. Song Kwang-ho of the ruling Saenuri Party on Wednesday. As it was a secrete vote, nobody knows who voted for or against the motion. Given that 118 out of 223 votes were against it, however, it appears that a significant number of ruling party lawmakers voted against it. Ruling party lawmakers who claimed that they would play by the book when the motion is submitted to the National Assembly turned out to have supported their member in anonymity.
Rep. Song is charged for allegedly taking bribes of 650 million won (638,100 U.S. dollars) from AVT, a rail fastener component supplier, in return for a favor. Prosecutors filed for a preliminary arrest warrant but the disapproved motion disabled them to arrest the lawmaker for investigation. Rep. Song stressed his innocence in a personal address before voting and said he would readily accept prosecutors investigation regardless of the circumstances. His attitude may have touched the hearts of other lawmakers.
If a lawmaker is probed for bribery charges and prosecutors have enough supporting evidence, however, it is not right to handle the issue out of compassion for the colleague lawmaker. If the lawmaker had been an ordinary person, the person would have been arrested. It would be unfair if he is not arrested because he is a lawmaker.
Both the ruling and opposition parties competitively released various ideas to reform the National Assembly including giving up their privileges in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. One of them was abandoning their immunity from arrest, which is stated in the Constitution. A little later, the National Assembly disapproved the motion on the arrest of Rep. Chung Doo-eon of the ruling Saenuri Party. This proved that the lawmakers pledge to give up their privileges was all talk. In August, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy held an extraordinary session in order to prevent arrests of its party lawmakers, Rep. Shin Gye-ryun, Rep. Kim Jae-yoon, and Rep. Shin Hak-yong who were being investigated by prosecutors for bribery charges. Both ruling and opposition parties unite when exploiting the immunity from arrest and protecting lawmakers privileges.
The National Assembly has long been paralyzed by the prolonged political deadlock between the ruling and opposition parties over a special Sewol ferry bill. Not a single bill has been passed the parliament since May 2. About 100 bills necessary to reform the country and revitalize the economy and assist peoples livelihood have not been discussed yet. The regular session started on Monday but it is not working properly. Meanwhile, lawmakers showed a strong partnership for their fellow lawmaker in the motion on his arrest. Rep. Kim Moo-sung, the Saenuri Partys chairman who promised he would not protect a corrupt lawmaker, must have born heavy responsibilities.