‘National Assembly should recall, penalize underperforming lawmakers’: Democratic Party floor leader
Published : Jul 3, 2019 - 16:20
Updated : Jul 3, 2019 - 16:20
Ruling Democratic Party of Korea Floor Leader Lee In-young on Wednesday suggested changes to the National Assembly law in order to prevent another monthslong parliamentary deadlock, and called for the implementation of a political recall system to penalize underperforming lawmakers.

“The parliament must automatically open on the first of every month to prevent the National Assembly from ending empty-handed after discussing the schedule,” Lee said during a parliamentary speech at the National Assembly.

Lee was the first of the three party floor leaders to speak, kicking off the extra parliamentary session.

Following a parliamentary standstill that lasted some 80 days in a confrontation between the ruling party and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, last week the political parties agreed to open the June extraordinary session this month.

To ensure that lawmakers carry out their tasks year-round and that the parliament operates as the public expects, Lee proposed amendments to the National Assembly law and the creation of a system to penalize underperforming lawmakers. 

Lee In-young (front row), the floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, delivers a parliamentary speech at the National Assembly on Wednesday, kicking off the June extra parliamentary session. (Yonhap)

“I have pitched to the Liberty Korea Party’s Na Kyung-won and the Bareunmirae Party’s Oh Shin-hwan (the idea of) signing a gentlemen’s agreement to prevent further delays in sessions during our term,” Lee said.

Due to the recent standoff, 445 bills were passed during plenary sessions between January and May this year -- less than half the number passed in the same period last year, which amounted to 968, according to National Assembly data.

Despite the lack of progress in carrying out National Assembly business, the lawmakers’ income and extra pay remained the same.

Lawmakers and their aides were paid a combined total of 83.4 billion won ($71.1 million) in the first five months of this year, of which 18.8 billion went to lawmakers, data from the National Assembly showed.

Mindful of the growing frustration over the National Assembly’s disappointing performance, Lee apologized for the stalemate and for the failure to pass urgent bills and the supplementary budget.

“Although I and the Democratic Party think the Liberty Korea Party is largely responsible (for the impasse), I will not push that opinion. We need to open up and make room for each other for cooperation and coexistence,” Lee said.

In his speech, Lee highlighted three forms of coexistence: coexistence between flexible progressives and logical conservatives through innovation; coexistence between South Korea and North Korea through peace and prosperity; and true coexistence by embracing and being considerate of social minorities. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (