Lawmakers may face salary seizure
A group of lawyers plan to file a lawsuit against all lawmakers to demand they pay back their salaries as they have failed to open the National Assembly due to political strife.
The Korean Bar Association (KBA) said Tuesday it will lodge the suit because lawmakers are not doing their jobs and thus are not entitled to be paid with taxpayers’ money.
The plan comes as the delay in opening parliament has prevented four vacancies of the nine-member Supreme Court from being filled.
“The Assembly was supposed to open on June 5 according to the law, but it hasn’t yet. We see the salary lawmakers receive as fraudulent gains and are considering filing a suit to get them to return their pay to the state,” the association said in a press release.
“The vacancy of four justices at the Supreme Court causes critical damage to the judiciary’s function, with top court rulings being delayed. It is not right for each of the 300 newly-elected lawmakers, who haven’t even taken the oath of office, to take home 10 million won per month,” a spokesman of the KBA said.
The group will also collect citizen plaintiffs, five to 10 from each electorate, and file a collective suit against all lawmakers to demand they pay compensation to citizens for dereliction of duty.
“Fighting over political issues without opening the Assembly, the lawmakers cause stress to the people. Some citizens suffer directly as their hearings are delayed. Citizens need to get compensation for their mental anguish,” he said.
The association is also studying the law to see if it can file a complaint with the Constitutional Court to force the lawmakers to open the Assembly, or if it is possible to suspend them from duty.
It also plans to seek a law to penalize lawmakers if they fail to open the legislative body by a specific period after the original schedule, such as suspending their salaries or stripping them of their Assembly seat.
Courts and the Ministry of Justice have also called for the Assembly to open and for the approval of the Supreme Court nominees.
National Court Administration Minister Cha Han-sung and other officials of the Supreme Court visited floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) to demand the Assembly promptly proceed with the approval process. The new justices are supposed to start their duties on July 4.
The Saenuri Party proposed to hold a one-day plenary session to deal with urgent issues, including the approval — a proposal the DUP is opposing.
The justice ministry also called for the normalization of the legislative body.
In addition to the Supreme Court, the nine-member Constitutional Court has been one justice short since July 8 last year. The Assembly voted against confirming nominee Cho Yong-whan who was recommended by the DUP.
Lawmakers have been under fire for creating a lifelong pension for themselves. Lately, the National Assembly was jeered at for keeping its building cooler than stipulated under energy-saving regulations.
Some experts say that the lawmakers’ sense of privilege comes from their high-cost electioneering that leads elected lawmakers to use their new perks rather than pay attention to the people’s livelihoods as they are supposed to.