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PSPD  l  People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Archive
  • 2001.07.31
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Analysis on the 16th National Assembly
Lee Kang-Jun (PSPD)

The First Year Evaluation

The PSPDs National Assembly Watch, which has gained immeasurable public support through Civil Action for General Election 2000 in Korea (CAGE), has celebrated its first anniversary. Now it is continuing its performance with a mid-term evaluation of the revised National Assembly Act.

There were a number of progressive elements in the revised National Assembly Act of February 2002. The evaluation was primarily focused on these elements. The result of the mid-term evaluation is based on an analysis of monitoring and petitions for free information.

[1] The 16th National Assembly Year 1 Law-Making Activities

l The total number of bill-submissions by MPs is 364, and 128 out of these have passed, which shows a 35.1% passing rate. In comparison, the number of bills submitted by the Government is a total of 208, with a passing rate of 88% (183). The high passing rate of bills submitted indicates that the Government is more successfully involved in lawmaking than the National Assembly.

l In comparison with the 15th National Assembly, the passing rate of bills submitted by MPs, 35.1%, is similar to the one of the 15th, 33.9% (75). However, the number of proposals has significantly increased, by 74.1% (155), which indicates that lawmakers have been more active compared to the same period of the 15th.

<Table 1> Comparison on Lawmaking by National Assembly between the 16th and the 15th

l Except for the proposal by a committee, the average rate of submissions by one MP is 1.2. The number of MPs who have submitted a bill more than once is 148 and the number of those who have not submitted any bill is 128.

<Table 2> Frequency of Submission of Bill

l The highest frequency of submission of bill is 19 for last year and two bills passed in their original form.

l Looking at table 2, the number of MPs who have submitted zero bills is 128, one submission 79, two submissions 31, three submissions 15, four submissions 19, and more than 5 is 13.

[2] Special Committee of Budget and Account

l The National Assembly Act, which was revised in February 2000, deleted a section regarding the establishment period by the Special ommittee on Budget and Accounts. However, there were only 29 meetings in the Plenary and 10 meetings in the Committee Meeting; that is, a total of 39 meetings were held. This is an average 3.9 meetings per month, which indicates no potential impact of the revised act to hold sessions of the Special Committee of Budget and Account through the whole year.

l Most Plenary Meetings were held in November and December, mainly for making a budget for the coming year. There were no meetings in August and November last year and in January and March of this year. The meeting is not held until a budget plan is received from the Government. This indicates the little impact of the Special Committee of Budget and Account.

l Considerations of the 1999 annual account settlement were held only 4 times from the fifth to the eighth meeting of the Regular National Assembly Meeting and the bills passed in their original form. It also indicates the little impact of the Special Committee of Budget and Account, whose role has been limited to being a rubber-stamp.

During one year of the 15th National Assembly, Budget and Account Committee meetings were held 20 times out of total Plenary Meetings, and Budget Regulating Subcommittee meetings were held 8 times. It shows a little increase in the number of meetings held since the revision of National Assembly Act.

[3] Open Subcommittee Meetings and Records (National Assembly Act Article 57 Section 5, Article 69 Section 4)

l A subcommittee meeting and its record must be transparent to improve the accountability of the National Assembly, according to the revised National Assembly Act. This is to prevent oblique lobbying performed wrongfully on the cross by private enterprises if it is a closed meeting.

l There were a total of 183 subcommittee meetings under Standing Committees, including 143 open meetings (78%), during one year of the 16th National Assembly. There were 20 closed subcommittee meetings, that is, 20% of all. Among the closed meetings, they were concerned with bills about preventing fund laundering (4) and the separation of pharmacies and clinics (13), which are major concerns of public welfare and legislation reform.

l Only 30% of subcommittee meetings kept records, 55 in all, which shows little transparency of the National Assembly. Especially 80% of the public welfare sections were held closed (25 out of 28), and records were made by only 8% (2 out of 28). The environment labor committee became the most transparent committee by making all its meetings open, and by making a record of every meeting.

l A close subcommittee meeting can be held according to excuse

l The article about that a close subcommittee meeting can be held if necessary promotes more closed subcommittee meetings and reduces the transparency of National Assembly legislation. The broad categories about excuses of close meeting must be deleted in order to increase the transparency and accountability of National Assembly legislation.

<Table 3>

[4] Vote by Real Name (National Assembly Act Article 112)

l An electronic voting system is adopted in order to increase accountability and transparency of members of National Assembly by recording the name of a person who is for or against.

l 464 Plenary Meetings during one year of the 16th National Assembly include 27 ballot takings (5.8%). Among the 27 ballot takings, there were are only 3 electronic votes, that is only 0.7% of total Plenary Meeting where votes were taken by real name. This is against the revisions purpose of holding ballots by electronic vote.

l Among the settled bills, there are 2 budget bills, 1 settlement of account, 311 legislative bills (128 from National Assembly and 183 from Government), 57 agreement bills, 3 propositions, 66 solutions, 2 regulation bills, 20 major agreement bills, and 2 others.

l Among 27 ballot takings, 3 electronic vote, 18 appointments, 4 legislative bills.

[5] National Assembly on 24-hours on the Job (National Assembly Act Article 4, Article 4 Section 2)

l The revised National Assembly Act enacts a temporary meeting every even month (February, April and June) and a regular meeting from the 1st of November for the next 100 days for National Assembly, when they are 24hrs on the job. The 59 days of Plenary Meetings held during one year of the 16th National Assembly was similar to the 58 days of the 15th National Assembly. The Legislation and Judiciary Committee met the most frequently, 84 times, and the National Defense Committee met the least, 34 times, excluding the House Steering and the Intelligence Committee.

l The Plenary Meeting met 5.4 times per month, on average, the Standing Committee met 2.4 times per month, and the Standing Subcommittee met 0.9 times per month. All types of meetings, including the Plenary, Standing Committee, and Standing Subcommittee meetings, were held 8.7 times per month, on average.

l The frequency of the Standing Committee meetings increased by 17.6%. However, no regular meeting but the National Assembly Meeting was held in August and November last year, and in January and March this year. This indicates that the frequency of regular meetings was actually reduced by the crippled operation of the National Assembly.

<Table 4>

<Table 5>

[6] No Enforcement of the Revised Article Since the Revision of National Assembly Act in February.

l Establishment of a Standing Subcommittee

A Standing Subcommittee was established to examine and report on bills for a more professional and substantial legislation process. However, Committees have not been called for any Standing Subcommittee meetings.

l Making use of professionals

More or less than 3 professionals are assigned as assistants to review the proposals. However, during last year in the 16th National Assembly these professionals were never used.

l Expanding of the question boundary about emergent pending

The question boundary about emergent pending on National Defense has been expanded. However, there was no questioning about emergent pending.

l Full attendance Committee meeting system

A full attendance Committee meeting is required when a meeting requires more than a quarter of members of the National Assembly. However, there was no full attendance Committee meeting during one year of the 16th National Assembly.

[7] Activation of the Public Hearing System (National Assembly Act Article 58 Section 5, Article 64 Section 1, Article 65 Section 2 and Section 5)

l The revised National Assembly Act eases the holding requirement of public hearings, and the revised legislation bill and the whole revision of the legislation bill makes it obligatory to hold public hearings.

[8] Committee and Subcommittee Article-by-Article Discussion (National Assembly Act Article 57 Section 7, Article 58 Section 4)

l The revised National Assembly makes article-by-article discussion an obligation for more substantial review of a legislation bill, and Subcommittees also make an article-by-article discussion an obligation.

[9] Special Committee on Ethics

l A Special Committee on Ethics was established for the examination of an MPs applicants qualifications, standard of morals, and punishment. However, there were only 2 meetings of the Special Committee on Ethics, for a governors appointment and public hearing, and no meetings relevant to any examination of an MPs applicants qualifications, standard of morals, and punishment. The 15th Regular National Assembly Meeting had 2 punishments, and both are yet unattended.

[10] Introduction of Personal Appointment Public Hearing (National Assembly Act Article 46 Section 3, Article 65 Section 2)

l The National Assembly, according to the Constitution, established a Special Committee on Personal Appointment to review a proposal of personal appointment by the National Assembly and representatives of collective bargaining.

l During the first year of the 16th National Assembly, there were 2 Personal

Appointment Public Hearings for reviewing an appointment agreement of the Prime Minister and 6 candidates for Justices of the Supreme Court and the constitutional court.

l After a Public Hearing, a written report for a Plenary Meeting omits indication of the members will, for or against. It only shows a report of finding, which indicates that this has its limitation as a formal procedure.



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