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Assembly needs innovation, too

By 배현정

Published : May 25, 2011 - 19:44

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Kwon successfully organizes G20 parliamentary forum, hopes to retake Assembly seat


The National Assembly secretary-general is gearing up to retake a lawmaker seat for the fourth time after serving the parliament as head of its administrative affairs.

“I believe that one becomes a true politician only after serving several terms as lawmaker and as administrator as well,” Kwon Oh-eul, secretary-general of the 18th National Assembly, told The Korea Herald.

“Now I am fully ready to share my experiences with the people, especially for the welfare of the residents of my constituency.”

Kwon, elected in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, served three consecutive parliamentary terms from 1996 to 2008 as the ruling Grand National Party.
Kwon Oh-eul (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald) Kwon Oh-eul (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

While he was taking a term off, he was appointed last year as the parliamentary secretary-general to assist Speaker Park Hee-tae.

“As an administrator, I see the assembly in a whole new light,” Kwon said.

“One has to be trained to be meticulous and humble in order to support the complex legislative activities of the parliament.”

In an effort to keep such pledges, he introduced a set of innovative systems, including the legislative town meetings in which lawmakers and citizens meet to directly exchange information and opinions on current legislative processes.

The meetings are organized by the secretariat and led by the legislative counseling office at the request of individual lawmakers.

“Citizens are quite impressed that they have direct access to their representatives to let them know their actual needs and have a corresponding law legislated,” Kwon said.

“This is, in fact, the essential role of lawmakers and it is our job to assist them to give out their best outcomes there.”

His policies largely abide by those of Speaker Park. “Park knows how to maintain balance amid political brawls and to focus on the core legislative functions of the assembly,” the secretary-general said.

“We thus seem to be pursuing similar ideals, forming a positive partnership.”

The two of them recently have accomplished a major project, namely the Group of 20 Seoul Speakers’ Consultation, which was held last week with parliamentary leaders from 26 countries attending.

“Though the adopted joint communiqu is not legally binding, its political and social influence is significant,” said Kwon, who was also the chairman of the G20 SSC preparatory committee.

“The parliamentary leaders returned to their countries and will seek ways to implement the contents of the conference and attend the next meeting with feedbacks on the outcomes.”

The third conference is to take place next year in Saudi Arabia.

“We also learned much from the consultation, especially as the Korean assembly has so far had little experience in such international events,” Kwon said.

“A total of 1.3 billion won ($118,128) was allocated on the project, which was an underestimated amount compared to the 100 billion spent on the G20 summit last year.”

The committee also had to settle troubles in public promotion, advertisements and broadcasting organizations during the processes, he said.

“Though we do not yet have detailed plans, it is indisputable that parliamentary events such as the G20 SSC will take place in the future,” he said.

“Korea, in addition to its recognition as an economic power, has also acquired the status as a political leader in the global community and has so proven itself through this year’s consultation.”

In order to promote the largest event ever to be held here, Kwon also attended the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments meeting held in Panama in April.

“Thanks to such efforts, 14 parliamentary speakers came to Seoul last week, a large number of them from BRICs countries, such as Brazil, India, and Russia,” he said.

“On my visit to Panama, I delivered a message that the world’s politics and economy may no longer be sustained without their participation.”

The successful hosting of the G20 SSC has leveled up the National Assembly onto a new higher plane and it is here that he wishes to come back, this time as a lawmaker, Kwon said.

“I feel it is my duty to return to the Andong voters what they have given me,” he said.

“I especially intend to dedicate myself to promoting the agricultural and fishing industries, as I have done so in the past.”

Many current issues, such as foot-and-mouth disease and free trade deals, are requiring detailed legislation, he said.

Kwon is thus to compete with Rep. Kim Gwang-lim in the general elections scheduled for next April.

“During this term, the assembly has made visible improvements by reducing scuffles and widening various communication channels,” the secretary-general said.

“I hope to contribute to further developments as an experienced and insightful legislative representative.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)