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Opposition Parties - No Tolerance on Civic Groups’ Election Campaign

Opposition Parties - No Tolerance on Civic Groups’ Election Campaign

Posted January. 04, 2004 23:44,   


With the 17th general election ahead scheduled for April 15, great disturbances are expected as people of civic groups decided to reform the National Assembly by carrying on an “election campaign” for some specific candidates.

In particular, as opposition parties such as the Grand National Party (GNP) and the United Liberal Democrats (ULD) protest to such a campaign, controversy seems to be unavoidable on the matter of fairness and a violation of the election law when the campaign is carried on in full-scale. As of failures in application and election campaign by NGO Korea during the 16th general election in 2000, the Supreme Court ruled it as a violation of the election law on January 16, 2001.

One-hundred people in academic circles, legal circles, cultural circles and civic groups announced in the international conference room of the Korea Press Center on January 4 that they will have a commencement ceremony on January 15 for the “People’s Solidarity for 2004 General Election” campaign, whose head of committee is Seong Hae-yong of the Christian Institute for the Study of Justice and Development.

Those who will participate in this group include the president of Sang-ji University Kang Man-gil, professor Hwang Sang-ik of Seoul National University, professor Ahn Byung-uk of the Catholic University of Korea, professor Park Jin-do of Chungnam National University, representative Choi Yeul of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, central commissioner Kim Dong-wan of the Christian Conference of Asia, film director Im Jin-taek, the head of Green Hospital Yang Gil-seung and painter Im Ok-sang.

They plan to offer information about each candidate to the voters when the candidates are confirmed after the day of registration on March 30 and launch a campaign by selecting the “people’s candidate” through discussions and estimation. Their standards for choosing candidates include the candidate’s position on current issues such as legislature estimation, human rights and the environment, a sense of morality and a tendency toward reform. Mr. Choi said, “Ideological matters such as whether he agrees with the National Security Law is not an item for estimation and we will focus on professionalism and a sense of morality.” He also made clear that he would “observe the election law.”

However, GNP leader Choi Byung-ryul criticized the campaign, saying, “Campaigns for winning and campaigns for losing are just the same like the two sides of a shield. We should not allow their intervention while ignoring the law.”

Mr. Choi also warned that “If the government reacts to the civil groups’ campaign with a clear measure, the GNP will do that with its own special one.”

Young-Chan Yoon Heon-Jin Lee yyc11@donga.com mungchii@donga.com