Published : 2013-02-15 21:17
Updated : 2013-02-15 21:17
With less than 10 days left before President-elect Park Geun-hye is sworn in, the shape of the administration she will run still remains undecided due to a partisan gridlock over the government reorganization bill.
The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party had agreed to pass the bill through the National Assembly by Feb. 14 to give Park time to finalize the Cabinet lineup before her inauguration on Feb. 25.
But they simply let the deadline pass without making any progress in their negotiations. The 10-member negotiating team launched by the two parties has not even been able to convene a meeting in the past 10 days due to their differences on the bill.
Given the time required for parliamentary hearings of the prime minister nominee and other ministerial candidates, the bill should be pushed through by Feb. 18 at the latest.
Otherwise, Park will face the awkward situation of having to work with the Cabinet of outgoing President Lee Myung-bak. At the moment, however, the impasse shows no signs of easing.
The two parties differ on several aspects of the bill. Their clash over the proposed transfer of the trade functions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the envisioned Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources has already been widely reported.
The rival parties are also at odds over Park’s plan to split the functions of the Korea Communications Commission, the broadcasting and communications watchdog under the incumbent government.
Park’s overhaul plan calls for limiting the commission’s regulatory authority to terrestrial TV broadcasters and a group of cable TV channels ― the four comprehensive programming channels and two news-only channels.
For other broadcast services, such as satellite broadcasting, internet protocol TV and other entertainment and educational cable TV channels, the jurisdiction will be transferred to the planned Ministry of Future Creation and Science.
Yet the opposition party is opposed to the plan on the grounds that it would cause inconsistencies in broadcasting policy as there would be two regulatory agencies.
The DUP also argues that broadcasting policy should be handled by an independent consultative body like the KCC rather than by a ministry where the minister can determine policy direction.
The opposition party focuses on the public aspect of the broadcasting business but fails to see its technological or industrial side. In recent years, there has been a growing convergence of information, communication and broadcasting technologies due to advances in digital technology.
Yet if the KCC continues to regulate broadcast services while the task of fostering the information and communications industry is left to the envisioned Ministry of Future Creation and Science, it will make it difficult for the ministry to harness the full potential of converging technologies.
The division of the KCC’s functions is intended to facilitate technological fusion, which is necessary to spur the development of new services and devices and the emergence of new industries that can drive forward the national economy.
The DUP should give Park a chance to implement her scheme, which does not look terribly ill-advised. It would not cause great harm to the nation even if the party chooses to wait and see whether her plan works.
If the scheme only causes confusion over broadcasting policy and fails to bring any anticipated benefits of technological convergence, then the DUP can rightly demand a correction.
The opposition party has the right to deliberate on the bill and demand that it be revised. But it should not insist that the ruling party accept all of its demands.
When it comes to government reorganization, there cannot be one single right answer. It is a matter of choice. The DUP needs to respect the choices made by the president-elect.
Having said this, the ruling party also needs to be more flexible about its proposal. If it insists that the DUP pass the bill without changing even one single line, it is no way to respect the opposition party’s right to deliberate.
The two parties should not waste precious time quarreling with each other. Given the mounting security concerns following North Korea’s recent nuclear test, the nation can ill afford a delay in the launch of the new administration.
Should there be a delay, it could hamper a smooth conduct of state affairs. At this juncture, the nation should get its act together and demonstrate its readiness to handle the challenge.