The Korea Herald


[Editorial] Bad faith legislation

Opposition party flexes muscles by passing problematic bills, pushing impeachment again

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 13, 2023 - 05:30

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The majority opposition Democratic Party of Korea last Thursday passed the so-called Yellow Envelope bill and three bills relating to broadcasting. All of the ruling People Power Party lawmakers boycotted the vote in protest.

The Yellow Envelope bill, a revision to the Labor Union and Labor Relations Act, allows employees of subcontractors to demand that main contractors enter collective bargaining with them and to strike to get their demands from main contractors, even though main contractors and subcontractors are different employers.

The law also revised the clause that allowed employers to hold unions and union members jointly responsible for damage incurred by illegal industrial action. The revised clause requires companies to prove the illegal nature of each union member’s actions and their responsibility for them in a damage suit. This makes it practically impossible for companies to win damages against unions and their members.

If this right is restricted, companies would have little choice but to meet militant unions' demands and endure losses from illegal industrial action.

The bill was pending in the National Assembly under the previous Moon Jae-in administration. The then-ruling majority Democratic Party did not process it, probably because they knew it was problematic. But after it became an opposition party, it pushed it through.

The broadcasting laws -- the Revised Broadcasting Act, the Revised Foundation for Broadcast Culture Act and the Revised Korea Educational Broadcasting System Act -- allow civic groups in the opposition camp to get involved in the process of selecting chief executives of public broadcasting companies. The laws restrict presidential influence while strengthening the Democratic Party's.

The Democratic Party was negative to these bills when it was the ruling party. But as an opposition party, it processed them unilaterally.

Considering the serious adverse effects of the laws, the president is certain to veto them. The Democratic Party knows that. Nonetheless it passed them. On the back of its parliamentary majority, it is flexing its muscles.

The party pretends to patronize its support base by passing the bills and imposing a political burden on the president. It seems to be uninterested in whether these proposed laws will actually take effect. Inciting social conflict for political gain is far from a responsible political party.

The party’s bad faith attempts at impeachment are serious, too.

It backtracked Friday on its motion to impeach two prosecutors and Lee Dong-kwan, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, a day after proposing it. One of the prosecutors, Lee Jeong-seop, currently commands investigations into allegations implicating Lee Jae-myung, head of the Democratic Party, in the case of the Ssangbangwool business group giving illegal funds to North Korea.

The Democratic Party originally planned to pass the motion, which has to be voted on between 24 and 72 hours of its introduction to pass. The ruling party had promised to filibuster, which would have kept the plenary session open, while the opposition backed themselves to somehow force a vote in this time. But the ruling party withdrew the filibuster plan at the last minute, letting the session expire before the 24 hours needed to hold vote on the motion had elapsed. The Democratic Party plans to push the motion again in the next plenary session on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

The Democratic Party accuses Lee Jeong-seop of helping his fellow prosecutor make a reservation at a golf course run by his wife’s family and also falsely notifying a district office that his family had moved there in order to enroll his daughter in a certain school. The Constitution specifies “job-related grave illegality” as a ground for impeachment. It is hard to believe the grounds the party cites meet the requirement.

Probably the real motive is to constrict the investigations in question until after the legislative election in April.

It is also hard to find impeachable faults in the record of Communications Commission Chair Lee who took office less than three months ago. The party wants to impeach him because he seeks to reform broadcasting companies that he views as biased toward the main opposition party. That all 168 lawmakers of the party signed the motion show how tyrannical its leadership is toward its lawmakers.

The Democratic Party's tyrannical moves are getting more blatant as the elections draw near.