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[Op-ed] Evil Laws

Posted December. 30, 2008 03:14,   


Labeling most of the 85 bills introduced by the ruling Grand National Party as “evil laws,” "anti-democratic" and "unfair to the underprivileged," the main opposition Democratic Party has openly pledged to muster all means possible to block the bills. Numerous theories and doctrines exist when it comes to fairness in law. Judgment of a certain law can be different depending on societal values. In all eras and countries, a common ground has allowed a person to determine what an evil law is. The crucial criteria are usually determined by whether the intended law eases the suffering and promotes the well-being of its citizens.

Jeong Yak-yong, a leading Korean philosopher of the Joseon Dynasty, described the predicament of a desolate and extremely miserable people in the countryside in a letter sent to the king in 1794. He urged dignity of national laws and careful consideration for the livelihood of the people. In effect, he preached that the key role of a king was to respect the law and properly address public welfare. An old saying goes that tyranny is fiercer than a tiger. Replacing tyranny with an evil law is hardly different when it comes to the bread and butter issue of the public livelihood.

The key bills the ruling party is trying to pass at the National Assembly include those on social reform, removing restrictions on investment by large companies and allowing cross-media ownership, easing restrictions for non-financial entities from owning banks, and ratification of the Korea-U.S free trade agreement. Most of them were pledged by Lee Myung-bak in his presidential campaign to revive the economy and stabilize the country. In the midst of a slowdown of the global economy, the people are finding it hard to make ends meet. To effectively handle the global financial crisis, parliament should waste no time in passing economy-related bills.

Hit hard by financial hardship, the populace is confused by the opposing claims of the ruling and opposition parties. Instead of just pointing fingers at the main opposition party, the ruling party should try to convince the public how these bills will benefit the nation and people. The door to the main conference hall of the National Assembly is still blocked by iron ladders and wood desks. Lawmakers are more interested in bipartisan wrangling while neglecting the suffering of the people, yet they are paid with taxpayers’ money. Perhaps the law that guarantees them pay is one of the most evil laws.

Editorial Writer Park Seong-won (swpark@donga.com)