The speaker of the National Assembly and chairperson of its legislation and judiciary committee play essential roles in the process of passing bills.
The chairperson of the committee has authority to preside over meetings, which are the last hurdle to the assembly plenary session. The speaker has the right to introduce a bill and put it to a vote in the plenary session.
In past assemblies, a majority party member of the parliament was elected as the speaker while a member of the second-largest party assumed the post of chairperson of the legislation and judiciary committee. This was custom for the rival parties to hold each other in check over legislation.
This custom was broken by the Democratic Party of Korea. After winning the 2020 general elections by a landslide, it monopolized not only the post of the speaker but also all 18 standing committee chairs including the legislation and judiciary committee. After it suffered a crushing defeat in by-elections for Seoul and Busan mayors on April 7 last year, it agreed to hand over the chair of the legislation and judiciary committee to the People Power Party from June when the latter half of the assembly is to start.
Then, the party backpedaled after losing the presidential elections in March.
Democratic Party floor leader Park Hong-keun said that it is right to start his party’s negotiations with the People Power Party again over distribution of committee chairs. He said that he was not involved in the agreement at the time.
This is an obvious act of breaking the promise in July last year to redistribute chairs of standing committees for the second-half period.
Park also said that the People Power Party has insisted that an opposition party should take up the chair of the legislation and judiciary committee in order to contain the government and the ruling party. He argued that by this logic, the Democratic Party should assume the post because it is now an opposition party. Considering the Democratic Party assumed the committee chair for the two-year first-half period as the ruling party, his argument is unjustifiable. It is a shameless and self-centered behavior that flings away political morals and trust.
The Democratic Party has become an opposition party, but it has a majority in the parliament.
The speaker, who is the final gatekeeper of legislation, is elected from members of the majority party. So even if the chair of the legislation and judiciary committee is assumed by the People Power Party, the Democratic Party is still able to check the government party. Rep. Kim Jin-pyo on Tuesday won the Democratic Party’s contest to elect the candidate for the speaker for the second half of the assembly.
What is the Democratic Party’s ulterior motive for attempting to break the agreement to pass the chair of the legislation and judiciary committee to the People Power Party?
It wants to process bills as it pleases by holding both posts of the speaker and chairperson of the committee. The party has a track record of passing contentious bills unilaterally without regard for the People Power Party. It revised the election law in its favor, enacted a law to create the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials and rushed through bills drawn up to strip the prosecution of its entire authority to investigate allegations.
Support for the Democratic Party is nosediving ahead of the June 1 local elections and by-elections for members of the parliament. It is because of its brazen-faced and double-standard behavior to have its own way in legislating bills.
If it keeps turning a blind eye to the changed popular sentiment despite its presidential election loss, it will receive a stricter voters’ judgment in the next general elections than in the upcoming local elections.
By Korea Herald (email@example.com