On Wednesday, Dong-A Ilbo submitted an application to the Constitutional Court, contesting the constitutionality of two legislations: the Newspaper Law and the Press Arbitration Law. At the focus of the contention are ten articles from the Newspaper Law (concerning the designation of dominant enterprises in the market, the prohibition against operating two businesses, the reporting of documentations, the Newspaper Development Committee, etc.) and five from the Press Arbitration Law (concerning the social responsibility of the press, the protection of personal rights, the recommendation of corrections, etc.).
This page deems these articles to be in plain violation of benchmark principles of free democracy and the market economy as well as our constitutions integrity itself. Among these principles are the freedom of the press, right to equal treatment, certain economic freedoms and the right to self-determination. Furthermore, the statutes meet none of the constitutional criteria of the anti-excessiveness rule applied as the touchstone in restricting the property rights of the individual, including the legitimacy of the objective, appropriateness of the method, minimization of damage, and the balance of legal benefits.
Moreover, these bills violate the freedom of the press and enervate the free market of ideas, ultimately leading to the back-pedaling of democracy and the victimization of the people of this country. Democracy cannot take root in a society where the criticism and surveillance of power are impeded. When the right to know is denied, the system of representative governance and participatory democracy can hardly flourish.
Nonetheless, this administration and the Uri Party were obstinate in enacting these legislations. Even the opposition Grand National Party played along, forfeiting the will to defend democracy and resorting to strategic concessions with the ruling party. These circumstances leave us with no other avenues for expressing our views than to legitimately issue dissent through this petition. As the final safeguard of basic rights and an impediment to the abuse of public power, the Constitutional Court will afford us an opportunity to express and validate our arguments in a court of law.
We are convinced that our commitment to democratic ideals obligates us, as a responsible member of the national press, to issue this lawsuit. As time passes, and as the media climate and the framework of power shift, these laws will be labeled as quintessentially vicious legislations. Under such circumstances, silence and inaction only translate into a cowardly submission to the fruits of power. A press tamed by the hands of power deserves no place in a democracy.