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Civic Groups Drifting Away from the Government

Posted June. 18, 2004 22:16,   


▽ “Keeping distance from the government”

Until recently, most liberal civic groups have kept pace with the Roh Moo-hyun administration on issues such as the impeachment process and political and media reform.

The two have similar ideology tendencies, but the main reason for this has been that they benefit from cooperating and thus supporting each other’s existence. Lately, however, a crack has been developing in their coexistence.

The way the insiders of the civic groups view is that the decision to send additional Korean forces to Iraq is the reason for the disruption. People Power 21, the Solidarity of People’s Welfare, and the other 350 groups the make up the “Emergency People’s Movement to Stop the Deployment of Forces to Iraq” said, “The government and the government party are relying on their majority status to misuse their power.”

The biggest issue they are upset about is that the government assigned a deputy chief staff member of the Civil Service Commission to mediate between Cheong Wa Dae and the civic groups, but during this decision the civic groups themselves were ignored during the entire process. In fact, they were even planning to repeal the decision to send forces to Iraq at the start of the 17th National Assembly.

People Power 21’s policy director Lee Tae-ho said, “If the government had any consensus with us, would they have done their job like this?” He also added, “We will make sure we strengthen our supervision of the government and the government party, which is our main function.”

The government’s decision to not reveal the manufacturing costs of apartments to the public is on the same line. An official of one of the civic groups said, “From when did the government start to follow the corporate mind.” He also added, “We haven’t even had a decent open discussion, nevertheless a consensus.”

As the discomfort grows, some civic groups are uneasy at the thought of some of their policies that they hoped would breeze through the National Assembly might meet some disturbance. The Women’s Group Association’s policy director, Kim Kum-ok, said, “Lately we have been receiving a strange vibe from the Head of Household System reforming issue, and we are in deep discussion about how we will act upon in the future.”

▽ “Finding specialization”

During this situation, there has been a change to draw interest into issues that reflect the lives of the average citizen and to step away from the politics.

Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ) is the most well-known group that follows this concept. CCEJ, which put itself aside during the impeachment process, has the same standpoint on the view that they should not deal with issues of which they have no knowledge.

CCEJ’s policy director, Yoon Soon-chul, said, “The public wants civic groups that can make a proposal on a specific issue.”

Environmental groups also plan to concentrate more on their “original job.” Environmental groups plan to concentrate on the environmental problems caused by the development of the KungBu Highway and satellite cities and also concentrate more on the Green Consumer Movement following the Dumpling Crisis.

Yang-Hwan Jung ray@donga.com