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2017-12-04 15:05
What the National Assembly has been doing of late makes many people question whether the nation needs this kind of parliament that reminds them of such negative terms as corruption, partisan strife, absurd remarks by its members, selfish political interest and too many privileges, instead of legislation and serving as a check and balance to the administration.

The National Assembly Steering Committee once again angered the public by deciding early last month to raise lawmakers’ monthly pay by 2.6 percent from 137,960.000 won (about $127,000) to 140,000,000 won ($134,321). The parliamentary action was belatedly made public last week.

A week ago, the Assembly also passed a bill to give each lawmaker one more assistant, up from the present seven, meaning an additional annual cost of 6.7 billion won ($6.164 million) for the employment of a secretary for each of the 300 lawmakers.

In comparison with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita among OECD member countries, the monthly pay of a South Korean lawmaker ranks third-highest after Japan and Italy. As for the “effectiveness of the parliament,” South Korea is placed 26th among 27 countries surveyed, while Sweden employing one secretary per two lawmakers is ranked second.

It is still vivid in the people’s memory that both the ruling and opposition parties competitively “promised” to cut lawmakers’ monthly salary as respective election pledges last year. A candidate from the then-opposition party proposed a 30 percent reduction, while the People’s Party promised a 25 percent cut. In particular, the then-ruling Saenuri Party, now the opposition Liberty Korea Party, pledged to return the annual pay of all its members if their election pledges were not kept. But after the election, nothing happened. Nobody kept their promises.

Electing the lawmakers last year, most of the voters had expected, half in doubt though, that the new four-year-term parliament would be different. Yet, “their excellencies” have already forgotten what they pledged to do to win votes. Without contradicting the people’s deep-rooted negative notions, the lawmakers, irrespective of political affiliation, have once again demonstrated their trademark lust for personal and partisan political gain at the cost of the people’s money. They are the very deep-rooted evils of the past President Moon Jae-in has been campaigning to annihilate in the name of national reform.

 




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