Published : 2013-09-13 20:23
Updated : 2013-09-13 20:23
Little work is being done at the National Assembly though almost two weeks have passed since the 100-day regular legislative session started on Sept. 2. The National Assembly will have squandered 20 days of the session if it fails to put its operations back on track before the three-day Chuseok holiday starts on Wednesday.
The National Assembly is being held hostage by a political standoff over the National Intelligence Agency’s alleged attempt to interfere with the presidential election process last year. The opposition Democratic Party is boycotting its session while demanding President Park Geun-hye take action against the spy agency, which it accuses of breaching the law on an order from the agency’s previous director.
More specifically, the opposition party is calling on President Park to shed light on the spy agency’s illegal political activities, punish those responsible and offer an apology. It also demands she dismiss the incumbent director of national intelligence for a different reason and commit herself to reforming the agency.
The National Assembly has little time to waste during its regular session, in which it is required to conduct a 20-day inspection of government agencies and deliberate on the administration’s budget request before passing it 30 days before the new fiscal year starts. It also needs to act on pending bills. Among them are revision bills to the tax laws and others that are designed to encourage job creation and investments and promote fair trade.
For a breakthrough in the impasse, the leader of the opposition party called for exclusive talks with President Park. To this, President Park made a counterproposal: She said she would like to visit the National Assembly and meet the opposition leader, together with the chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party.
The opposition party accepted Park’s offer. What the two sides need to do is set the framework for the talks. Prior to such high-profile talks, the agenda is fixed and areas for potential agreement are selected. The rationale behind such conventional preparations is that the president and the opposition leader should not leave the conference table empty-handed.
If the convention prevails this time again, the presidential office and the opposition party will surely engage in frantic, behind-the-scenes negotiations over the weekend. The negotiators will have to race against the clock, with talks scheduled for Monday.
The presidential office should be prepared to give substantial concessions for the settlement of pending issues. Otherwise, Park may fail to give the public an impression that she has done enough. For its part, the opposition party should meet the presidential office halfway. Its leader cannot endear himself to the public if the talks are derailed because too much is demanded of the president.