PSPD People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
PSPD English Newsletter, July-August 2019
- 2019.08.31 (11:26:38)
This Month of PSPD
We can’t stand it anymore! The complete inaction of the National Assembly
June’s provisional session of the National Assembly had only commenced on June 20 -- 20 days late. The opening of the session was very unproductive due to the Korea Liberty Party’s boycott, which caused a delay in the assembly working on bills and reforms that would help the public. Additionally, the National Assembly didn’t make any progress redrawing the electoral districts for the 2020 election and the deadline has already passed, which puts its current status as illegal. PSPD urged both the ruling and opposing parties to extend the period of the Political Reform Committee which is supposed to adjourn at the end of June, and complete redrawing of the electoral precincts as soon as possible.
The recent inaction of the National Assembly explains why so many citizens are asking for political reform as well as National Assembly reform. Citizens who were once on the streets with candles to mass protest now impeached President Park Geun-hye, want politicians to do their job as opposed to just looking out for their vested interests. PSPD and NGOs held a press conference on June 17 to demand electoral reform, the freezing of the National Assembly budget, and the establishment of an independent body to assess lawmaker's annual salary. All of these are intended to abolish the privileges of lawmakers. The National Assembly has been called ‘inanimate’ and we asked them to return their paychecks if they aren’t going to work.
Public anger at the National Assembly has led to calls for the introduction of a recall system. Despite the controversy of having a recall system, there is no doubt that we need a system of checks and balances to keep an eye on the National Assembly. PSPD proposed starting a discussion of tools that would keep lawmakers in check during their terms, including a recall.
Amending the Housing Lease Protection Act
June 3rd marks the 27th year anniversary since the ‘Day for the Homeless’ was declared. In June 1992, tenants who could not endure the pains of rising rents made this day hoping to create a society where ordinary homeless people didn’t have to suffer in pain and despair.
It has been almost 40 years since the Housing Lease Protection Act was written into law, but there hasn’t been much progress with means to protect tenants, such as a right to demand a renewal of the contract or rent control. PSPD has covered this in detail in the June issue of Tongin News with a story entitled ’30 Years of Unchanged Tenant Rights.’ The Center for People’s Livelihood Improvement campaigned in various activities to communicate the rights of tenants in the month of June to celebrate the ‘Day for the Homeless.’
Firstly, a debate was held at the National Assembly with tenants, rep. Joomin Park, and rep. Hongken Park to demand an amendment of the Housing Lease Protection Act. To make sure tenants do not continue to suffer, the amendment must be done within the 20th Republic, which will only be in session for 10 more months. Debaters from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport, and from the city of Seoul had agreed on introducing the right to demand a renewal of the contract and promised to work on amending the bill.
PSPD held a joint press conference to press both leading and opposing parties on June 18th with 10 representatives of the Democratic Party, Party for Democracy and Peace, and the Justice Party, who proposed a revision to the Housing Lease Protection Act. The Center for People’s Livelihood Improvement will work even harder through the rest of the 20th parliamentary session on the bill amendment to protect tenants, which is one of our top priorities.
Demand to Audit Long-term Nursing Homes for the Elderly Due to Abuse
On June 15, to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Committee for Social Welfare demanded a public audit on how the Ministry of Health and Welfare are conducting their duties to handle abuses found in the long-term nursing facilities and how local governments are disciplining those facilities.
Abuse cases are on a steep rise since the introduction of the 「Long-Term Care Insurance Act」 in 2008. The number of elder abuse cases was 2,038 in 2005, 2,369 in 2008 and 4,622 in 2017. Among them, elder abuse in living facilities increased approximately six times in 10 years from 46 cases in 2005, to 55 cases in 2008, and 327 cases in 2017.
According to a report issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, a majority of abuse cases happened in elderly health care facilities covered by the Long Term Care Insurance Act, with serious abuses such as physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse occurring frequently. Considering many cases of elderly abuse are concealed, there could be more cases we don’t know about.
Local governments are responsible to determine whether such abuse is in accordance with Article 37 of the Long-term Care Insurance Act (Cancellation of Designation as Long-Term Care Institutions) or Article 39-9 of Welfare of Older Person Act. However, some local governments say that even though the CCTV video evidence of the abuse of caregivers is clear, there are cases where simple warnings are given under the administrative order of the Social Welfare Business Act, which is much more lenient than the Long-Term Care Insurance Act.
Even cases that were proven abusive after months of inspection and committee meetings were not properly disciplined, so it is hardly expected that such abuses will be stopped or prevented in the future. PSPD will see if actions taken against these abuses by the Ministry of Health and Welfare were proper or if the Ministry neglected its supervision duties.
Condemning the Ease of Qualification for Becoming a Major Share-holder of Online-Only Banks
For a non-financial corporation, such as an Information & Communication Technology (ICT) company, to qualify to become a major shareholder of a financial institute, the company must not have had been found guilty of any violation of laws and regulations, such as the Fair Trade Act, over the past five years. KT and Kakao, who decided to become the major shareholders of K Bank and Kakao Bank, respectively, are no longer eligible for major shareholder eligibility.
The Moon administration and the ruling party made it public that they are open to the possibility of amending the bill to loosen the qualification of becoming a major shareholder for online-only banks. It is absurd for the government to consider lowering the threshold for unqualified individuals at a time when a penalty was imposed on KT for collusion, and the prosecution has brought a case against them which put the qualification evaluation on hold. Both Kiwoom Bank and Toss Bank were determined to be "inappropriate" during the 3rd Online Bank Accreditation Review.
The Banking Act, the Internet Banking Act, and the Financial Investment Service and Capital Markets Act require major shareholders to meet the social credit requirements, including financial laws and fair trade laws, as well as financial factors such as investment capacities and financial status. The reason is that financial firms manage the wealth of financial consumers and provide funds to economic players. The Majority Shareholder Eligibility Test is a common principle across financial institutions, and should also apply to online-only banks.
The Center for Economic Finance held a press conference with financial consumers to denounce and urge the government and the ruling party to stop their push to ease of gaining the status of a majority shareholder at online banks. In 2018, the government and the National Assembly enacted the "Special Act on the Establishment and Operation of Online-only banks" with more haste than caution despite all the controversies and objections.