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[Editorial] Can the Opposition Party Get Any Worse?

Posted December. 27, 2008 03:08,   


The main opposition Democratic Party, which has paralyzed the National Assembly for more than a week, has occupied the main hall of parliament since yesterday. The party says it must prevent the National Assembly speaker from submitting controversial bills at his own discretion and block the ruling Grand National Party from railroading bills. The occupation is a de facto insurrection that has completely halted operations the Assembly. Even if the ruling party yields in reducing the number of bills for submission and easing their content, violent conflict is inevitable in the process of passage.

The ruling party chairman and floor leader have said they will deliberate on more than 100 bills by year’s end, as if making advance announcements. The party also said Thursday was the deadline for seeking dialogue with the Democratic Party. The ruling party, however, has failed to show efficiency in political compromise. The opposition party has thoroughly prepared a plan to occupy the main hall of parliament, and put the plan into action like a military operation.

The Democratic Party’s intent is too obvious. It wants its rival to yield the right to police and protect, raid the doors and force its lawmakers out of the main hall. They hope to unleash a public backlash against the ruling party like at the time when the ruling party passed a motion to impeach President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004. Back then, networks graphically broadcast then Uri Party lawmakers being forced out with their shoes off, lamenting while sitting the floor, singing the national anthem, and making a public apology for their failure to protect the president. This instigated the anger of the people. Pro-Roh groups fueled the backlash by staging a flurry of protests against the impeachment motion. A month later, Uri secured a slim parliamentary majority in the general elections.

The Democratic Party, however, has miscalculated the situation. Times are different now. Korea is at crossroads of survival or death due to the economic crisis. The bills the Democratic Party is blocking include a number of urgent measures aimed at reviving the economy and supporting the livelihoods of ordinary people, who are in dire straits. Now is not the time for the main opposition party to repeat outdated practices and occupy the parliamentary hall to further aggravate the people. It must realize that it will draw the public’s ire as a party that crushed both democracy and the people’s livelihoods unless it immediately ends its sit-in at the National Assembly.

If the ruling party seeks to unilaterally pass controversial bills on its own, it could lead to side effects and a backlash. Irrespective of intent, the party could end up being dragged into the Democratic Party’s plot. The National Assembly now is neither a venue of democracy nor a legislative body. Nothing can be achieved if a minority group stubbornly pushes for its own agenda and occupies facilities. If this is what the National Assembly is going to be, it might be better for Korea to hand over the Assembly to the Democratic Party.

While leaving doors open for dialogue, the ruling party must wait until Democratic Party members walk out of the main hall voluntarily. Until then, the Grand National Party must continue to improve bills on reviving the economy and the people’s livelihood, and step up efforts to persuade the people. President Lee Myung-bak must also thoroughly adjust and improve his plan on state administration for his second year in office, and speed up a reshuffle to revamp the mood. These are apparently the only way for the ruling party and the president to correct the actions of the Democratic Party, which mistakenly perceives violent struggle as the only reason for its existence while negating its obligation to serve the public.