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A Third Voice from NGOs?

Posted August. 05, 2001 18:13,   


The declaration by the 32 elders of the religious, academic and NGO circles on Aug 2nd states that, ``Our position to the Recent Controversies On the Press,`` signals the various voices according to the characteristics of the NGOs.

While the declaration pointed out the problems of the press and urged the repentance of the press companies and their related persons, it emphasized the social disturbance by the press tax probe and the unfairness of the tax investigation that the government selectively filed a lawsuit of the press. In particular, the declaration urged for the ownership reformation of the medias such as MBC and KBS, which are under the government control, that had cried out for the press reformation in cooperation with some other press companies and NGOs. In this sense, the declaration seems considerably different from the precedent declarations of the NGOs that unilaterally stood for the reformation.

The elders and the representatives of the NGOs who participated in the declaration had served the various NGOs for a long time. Therefore, the NGOs, which had been acknowledged as to chorus the `press reformation` with some part of medias and other organizations asserted the press reformation, view diversely the current situation by the dispositions of the members of the organizations. The participated organizations are Citizens` Coalition for Economic Justice, the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, Citizen`s Alliance for Consumer Protection in Korea, the Green Future, the Christian Ethics Movement in Korea, and the Pan Korea Mutual Aid Movement Headquarters.

The elders of the NGOs ``agreed in general`` in the declaration but according to the dispositions of them, they were divided in ``disagreed in details,`` ``acknowledged as the expression of individual opinions,`` and ``agreed.``

Park Won-Soon, the head of the People`s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, explained yesterday that ``the declaration of the elders do not differ largely from the previous declarations of the NGOs except for the emphasis on the worries about the press suppression by the government.`` The civil organization solidarity council composed of 283 NGOs announced a declaration on July 23, stating `the relentless press reformation,` in which, Mr. Park said, the worries of the NGOs about the press suppression was expressed as well. Mr. Park also said that the participants, the moderate conservative elders, could be understood as a group of ` a third opinion` of NGOs.

Im Sam-Jin, the secretary general of the Green Korea United said that [we] may agree to some part of the declaration but we do not agree with them in general.

Choi Yeol, the secretary general of the Green Korea United whose joint chairperson Lee Se-Jung took part in the declaration, remarked that it is not necessary to point out the problems of the declaration. The problem is clear in that the individual of the NGOs that had expressed their positions voiced their own individual opinions.

An executive member of the Citizen`s Coalition for Economic Justice whose secretary general Lee Seok-Yeon participated in the declaration, said that ``it seems some individual opinions were included. But that was a right declaration in general. Citizen`s Alliance for Consumer Protection in Korea, whose two high officials Song Bo-Kyong and Kim Jae-Ok participated, sanctioned the declaration as the official position of the organization. Kim Hae-Ja, the secretary general, declared that ``the representatives of the organization signed it. Therefore, the declaration represents our official position.``

Some NGOs indicated that the declaration was organized by Seo Kyong-Suk, the former secretary general of the Citizen`s Coalition for Economic Justice and incumbent representative of the Pan Korea Mutual Aid Movement Headquarters, and therefore the members of the participants consist of the civic organizations association in the middle of the nineties.

Chairperson Lee Seok-Yeon emphasized that ``it should be taken for granted that the NGOs made various voices. The unilateral voice to a sensitive issue would not fit in the purpose of the NGOs.`` Mr. Seo Kyong-Suk stated that ``the NGOs must not be divided even though they have different voices.``

Soh Young-A sya@donga.com