The National Assembly is required to open an extraordinary session on each even-numbered month. As such, it should have opened a session on Feb. 1, then gone into recess for the Lunar New Year holiday. But it was put back until Feb. 14, after objections from the opposition Democratic Party, which had been angered by the railroading in December of the 2011 budget bill by the ruling Grand National Party.
On Jan. 31, lawmakers affiliated with the Democratic Party met to address the issue of opening an extraordinary session only to postpone making a final decision.
The Democratic Party had been boycotting an extraordinary session, demanding an apology from President Lee Myung-bak and the resignation of the National Assembly speaker. It dragged its feet before agreeing to join an extraordinary session Sunday and negotiate the agenda with the ruling Grand National Party immediately.
Announcing the decision, the Assembly speaker and the floor leader of the GNP hinted that they may apologize over the handling of the budget.
There are urgent bills to act on and pressing issues the National Assembly is required to address. They include the spread of foot-and-mouth disease crippling the livestock industry, home rental costs soaring in urban areas and inter-Korean talks starting in the wake of North Korea’s unprovoked shelling of a South Korean island in November.
The parties must make up for lost time as they debate the urgent bills. The issues of great concern cannot be delayed.