President Yoon Suk-yeol (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol and the ruling People Power Party are set on a collision course with the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea over the Democratic Party’s push to revise the National Assembly Act, which would give lawmakers the right to amend presidential and prime ministerial decrees.
When asked by reporters on his way to work on Monday about how he sees the opposition party’s push to amend the act, he said, “It is highly unconstitutional (for the National Assembly) to have the right to request amendments to the enforcement ordinances.” Presidential and prime ministerial decrees are officially known as enforcement ordinances.
If the content of the enforcement ordinance is contrary to the purpose of the law, or violates the effectiveness of the law, the National Assembly can further specify, revise or invalidate the enforcement ordinance, he said.
“I think the enforcement ordinance is set by the president and the way to solve the problem of the enforcement ordinance is to follow the methods and procedures prescribed in the Constitution,” he added.
His remarks came as Rep. Cho Eung-cheon of the Democratic Party plans to propose an amendment to the National Assembly Act, which will allow the National Assembly to have the right to request “revisions” of enforcement ordinances.
The current law requires the National Assembly to “review” where an enforcement ordinance violates any laws. But Cho’s bill states that if the enforcement ordinance is inconsistent with the purpose and content of higher laws, the National Assembly Standing Committee can request the government to revise and change it.
Rep. Cho said on his Facebook account on Sunday: “If the administration distorts the purpose of the law or deviates from the scope of delegation, the National Assembly, as a constitutional body with legislative power, intends to control the content of administrative legislation, but has no means to enforce it.”
The bill seems to be related to the recent launch of the Ministry of Justice’s personnel information management team led by Minister Han Dong-hoon. Earlier, the Yoon administration revised the existing presidential decree and entrusted information management of public official candidates to the Ministry of Justice, which did not have the authority to conduct personnel affairs.
The People Power Party denounced the opposition party’s push for the bill, saying it is “destroying the spirit of the separation of powers (the National Assembly, the executive and the courts).”
Floor leader Kwon Sung-dong said, “The Democratic Party, which took power of the prosecution, now is attempting to strip the administration’s power after losing at local elections.”
The ruling People Power Party sees the attempt by the Democratic Party as a measure to check the current administration’s administrative legislation. The Democratic Party dominates the 300-seat National Assembly with 170 seats.
This is, however, not the first push for the bill.
During the former Park Geun-hye administration, some in the conservative party sought to push for the revision of the act. In 2015, Rep. Yoo Seong-min, the then-floor leader of the Saenuri Party (the predecessor of the People Power Party), proposed a similar bill to deal with the Public Officials Pension Act, which was opposed by the liberal party. The bill was also passed at the plenary session of the National Assembly, but former President Park vetoed the bill, saying if the revision is promulgated, the “function of the government will be paralyzed.” Yoo resigned as floor leader and was later branded a “traitor” within the conservative party.
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org