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[Editorial] Passage of Economy Bills Urgent

Posted December. 10, 2008 05:28,   


The ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party agreed to pass the 2009 budget bill Friday, but failed to agree on the budget for infrastructure and other proposed works. The ruling party can continue its plan only if the National Assembly passes at least 17 of 131 pending bills in the regular session. The Democratic Party said, however, that it will block the passage since most of the bills are right-leaning. Democratic Party leader Chung Sye-kyun defined the revised bills of the National Intelligence Service Act, the Protection of Communications Secrets Act (which would allow wiretapping of cell phones), and the Promotion of Information and Communication Network Utilization and Information Protection Act (which would punish cyber defamation) as “bad anti-democratic laws” and pledged to fight their passage.

The revised intelligence bill would expand the scope of intelligence data collection to cope with the new security challenges of the 21st century. But opposition party has opposed revising the law since last month, when the revision was proposed, claiming it will revive political surveillance by the national spy agency.

The revision of the Protection of Communications Secrets Act to allow the wiretapping of cell phones is intended to prevent intelligence crimes such as industrial espionage. Such a move, however, is also feared to allow wiretapping by intelligence. Though wiretapping is not illegal and is conducted via mobile operators, not directly by the intelligence agency or investigative bodies under the revised bill, fears over wiretapping have not been eliminated. The proposed Cyber Defamation Act, nicknamed the Choi Jin-sil Act after the actress who committed suicide due to stress from online defamation, is also facing opposition.

Many other bills could bring a confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties. But now is the time to focus on the economy and help the people. If economy bills are not passed because of controversial ones, the two parties will lose a lot over small things.

Fortunately, the ruling party says it could pass certain proposals first. It is a relief that the move is an opportunity for opposition leader Chung to show his leadership. To make bipartisan negotiations possible, the opposition party’s leadership should not be swayed by hawkish members. Hopefully, both parties can deal with the economy bills immediately and put off the controversial ones for later.