Ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker Kim Yong-tae, who is a member of the National Policy Committee of the National Assembly, is one of the most outspoken opponents to bills regarding economic democratization. During a recent interview with Business Korea, he said, “Economic democratization should cover the real-life situations of the Korean economy based on hard facts, not the sentiment of the general public,” stressing,“Such bills cannot be a subject of compromise or political bargaining.”
You are one of the politicians representing the middle class and a member of the ruling party. Why do you stand against the Park Geun-hye government’s drive for democratic economy?
There seems to be some misunderstanding. I do not oppose the cause of economic democratization and have no reason to do so. What I emphasize is that economic democratization has to comply with the goals of the Korean economy. In other words, it must help cope with jobless growth and the wealth divide, which are two of the greatest challenges to the national economy, while contributing to economic revitalization and enhancing competitiveness. We need to thoroughly go over the bills and revise and nullify them if it is necessary to do so.
At the same time, the National Assembly must stick to its job as a counterbalance to the executive branch, while also reconfirming the principle of legislation. It should not let the administration interpret the law arbitrarily, in conformity with the principle of legality, so that every economic agent can get an accurate grasp of the regulations.
In this context, economic democratization has to handle not only the feelings of the people but the reality of economy. What I intend to do is approach the cause from an economic, not political, perspective.
You have tabled a revision to the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act in order to ease the burden of the corporate sector. What is the background of the proposal?
In short, the revision bill is to look into not whether inter-company transactions hurt the market order, but whether such practices accelerate the over-concentration of economic power. The Fair Trade Commission is also in favor of the draft because the current act has some loopholes.
Still, we should also be wary of the situation in which restrictions on inter-company transactions for economic power concentration result in excessive administrative power and the business reality taken out of consideration.
How many of your colleagues have the same view?
At first, the majority of lawmakers could not understand my view. However, the number of supporters has been increasing with time, realizing it is not that I was blindly taking chaebols side. The bills, particularly the Fair Trade Act and those related to the financial sector, require in-depth, professional knowledge. My peers who had a hard time understanding the bills due to the high level of difficulty are now increasingly opposing reckless economic democratization.
In addition, the ruling party itself is appearing to gradually change its stance that economic democratization should be pursued no matter what. More and more members are claiming that some of the bills be modified in view of reality.
It seems that you have starkly different opinions with the opposition parties. What are you doing to reach a consensus with them?
The coordination will not be easy but it makes no sense that the bills can be subject to political bargaining or compromise. I am going to keep my lean-forward stance, but there is still no doubt that we should correct the controversial parts of the bills in light of the economic reality.
All of the proposed bills have the same ultimate goal of economic reinvigoration and job creation. What do you think is the right direction of legislation?
What I mean to do is deal with hard facts based on reality. These days, discussions surrounding democratic economy are obsessed with the fixed idea that big businesses are evil.A cool-headed and hard-edged approach is what I am advocating, and I believe it is the right attitude as a lawmaker.