Petitions for the Abolition of ‘Lawmakers’ Retirement Fund’ Pour Out
The anger among public against the “lawmakers’ retirement fund legislature” is getting intense as they assert the amendment or the abolition of the pension plan.
The National Assembly passed this year’s 342 trillion won ($321 billion) government budget of paying a monthly pension of 1.2 million won ($1,100 ) to former lawmakers over the age of 65 on Jan. 1. Included in the budget was 12.8 billion won ($12 million), which is the sweat and blood of the public. However, as the lawmakers did not even hesitate to make a plan to put that money in their pockets, the rage of the public does not seem to easily calm down.
A university student group “Peojim (spreading out)” held a candlelight rally titled as “Massive rally against the lawmakers’ pension plan” (hereinafter, “rally against lawmakers’ pension plan”) on Jan. 12 at Seoul Station Plaza.
About 50 citizens who voluntarily participated in the rally after reading the appeal for the petition online, blogs, SNS etc. argued that “the lawmakers should fulfill the commitment to abolish their pension plan and curtail their privileges.”
“I am here to assert the abolition of the lawmakers’ pension plan and induce more active political participation of the public,” said the president of “Peojim,” Jin-hoon Yoo (25).
“The lawmakers are using the precious taxes of our citizens as they please,” said a middle school student Soo-bin Kim.
“The ruling and opposition parties made a promise that they will abolish the subsidies for the former lawmakers and will apply a new pension plan, but we cannot know whether it will surely be implemented. We should keep on monitoring the lawmakers,” said a college student Young-wook Lee.
In February 2010, the lawmakers who went against the revision of the pension plan which was decided at the Assembly plenary session were only two representatives, Creative Korea Party Rep. Yong-Kyoung Lee and New Progressive Party Rep. Seung-soo Cho, among the 191 representatives.
Many lawmakers expect that the pension act will be dealt through the temporary assembly in the near feature. However, as it seems difficult for the considerable amount of the ruling and opposition party members to gather in January due to their schedules, the disapproving look of the public appears to become more severe.
“The lawmakers’ retirement fund goes against the public and is irrational. It is not too much to call them as the most shameless and despicable in the world,” asserted a netizen with a Twitter ID hdkiOOO. Another netizen with a Twitter ID ilovekOOO said, “representatives and lawmakers are temporary workers. Please talk about their pension after implementing the pension plan for non-lawmakers, temporary and contract workers rightly first.”
Due to the cold reception of the public, the floor speakers of the Saenuri Part and the Democratic United Party Chul-woo Lee and Eong-joo Lee held a co-briefing on Jan. 11 and announced that the lawmakers’ retirement fund plan has been annulled.
“The main problems would be solved if a National Assembly’s special committee for the political reform is formed,” said the Saenuri Party’s floor leader Han-goo Lee during a radio interview, letting the listeners assume that the discussion over the pension plan would be clearly organized.
“Political reform will be constantly progressed, and if the National Assembly begins its session, even the legislation will be discussed,” said the Saenuri Party’s floor leader Woo-yeo Hwang.
“It would have been better if the Act on Promotion of the Constitutional Government Society of the Republic of Korea had been amended before brining in the budget plan, but we are deeply sorry for failing it,” said the DUP Rep. Chung-rae Jeong.
“The DUP announced that the lawmakers’ pension plan is abolished (amendment of the Act on Promotion of the Constitutional Government Society of the Republic of Korea) and a new lawmakers’ pension plan will not be adopted on Jan. 15,” said the DUP Rep. Soo-mi Eun. “The lawmakers’ pension plan has not been submitted to a plenary session.”
Some people point out the lawmakers’ retirement fund plan should not be unconditionally abolished, but should be reformed. They assume that if the lawmakers pay some portion of money for the pension during their tenure in the Assembly or if the amount of pension is lowered to the level that can be acceptable by the common knowledge of the public, there would not be any controversy as the current situation. The public’s attention is drawn on the issue whether the lawmakers’ effort and measure for the political reform will coincide with the viewpoint and the standard of the citizens.