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GNP Won’t Approve Government Funding to Remove Press Rooms

GNP Won’t Approve Government Funding to Remove Press Rooms

Posted August. 25, 2007 03:26,   


The Grand National Party decided to disapprove the government’s reserve fund that was used to shut down briefing and article delivery rooms after vowing to help the National Assembly “safeguard the freedom of press and revitalize the people’s right to know.” The assembly will open its regular fall session next month.

After touring sites where the press is allegedly being trampled upon, the GNP said yesterday that it will submit a resolution that will dismiss Kim Chang-ho, the director of the Government Information Agency (GIA), from his post.

Yesterday at his campaign office in Yeouido with reporters, GNP presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak argued against the government’s “Press Support Advancement Initiative” saying, “It is an open society we live in, and the people’s right to know should be protected. I don’t agree with what the government is trying to do.”

GNP chief Kang Jae-seop said at the supreme council meeting, “We will not spare any effort in correcting the current situation. If we can’t do it now, we will do so when the next administration takes office. Eliminating the GIA should be also pursued in this regular session but if that doesn’t work out, we will go so far as restructuring government offices to do so. Merging of the briefing and article delivery rooms makes it look like the current administration is trying to herd a flock of animals into a corner.”

GNP floor leader Kim Hyeong-oh also railed against the administration, saying, “Such a measure raises the specter of authoritarianism. It is nothing less than suppression of the press. After the GNP wins the presidency, the incumbent government will be held accountable for this.”

Chair of the GNP policy committee Lee joo-yeong said in the Supreme Council, “We will pass an ‘open public office information’ bill that will expand the access of reporters covering stories in government offices. In this regard, we will disapprove the 5.5 billion won the government used from the reserve fund to constrain it.”

Spokesperson of the United New Democratic Party Lee Nak-yeon in his commentary also said, “We will address issues regarding reporting constraints on journalists, violations of the people’s right to know, and human rights violations committed by government agencies after we review and confirm that there are problems.”

Yesterday, six GNP lawmakers visited government offices in order to find out more about the government’s recent moves toward the press, including the Seoul District Police Agency, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, the Financial Supervisory Board, the Ministry of Finance and Economy, and the Korea Food and Drug Administration, where briefing rooms are being constructed, and heard opinions from reporters.

Lawmaker Lee Byeong-seok said, “I am strongly against the attempt to gag the public by the police. I’m appalled by the government’s control over the media. It’s utterly anti-democratic and autocratic.”