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[Editorial] Dictatorship by the Minority

Posted January. 05, 2009 03:00,   


The National Assembly has become an emotional outlet for the main opposition Democratic Party. Until early morning yesterday, the parliamentary secretariat mobilized security guards whenever possible in the hall in front of the main chamber to disperse Democratic Party members who were staging a sit-in. Such efforts were fruitless, however, in the face of vehement opposition. A brawl broke out in the process leaving 100 injured on both sides combined. The protesters blocked the hallway with office supplies and stopped the elevator, making the hall its makeshift bastion. People watched the chaos on TV and the absurdity unfolding before their eyes, wondering if the lawmakers knew that they should be serving the people, not themselves.

Nonetheless, the Democratic Party criticized Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o for exercising his right to restore order, saying call his response “a parliamentary coup.” The party filed a complaint against National Assembly Secretary General Park Gye-dong, National Police Agency Commissioner General Eo Cheong-soo and Kim for interfering with the government’s official duties. It even demanded a court order to block the exercise of a supposedly “illegal” right to restore order and protect the Assembly. The party is acting as if it is the victim.

The truth is, however, that the Democratic Party is abusing its rights and obstructing the deliberation of bills, which is an official duty. It has ignored the authority to restore order and brought about lawlessness in the Assembly, which should represent the people’s interests. There is no other word to describe the party’s behavior other than “coup.” The Assembly convened even as the Korean

War raged on. Though temporarily closed once because of the military government in the past, there has been no other time in Korean history when the Assembly was paralyzed for almost 20 days. The Democratic Party is blocking the passage of pending bills crucial for overcoming the economic crisis and enhancing national competitiveness. It is also stifling a legitimate government elected through democratic means. This is none other than dictatorship by the minority under the guise of democracy.

Democratic Party leader Chung Sye-kyun proposed that Speaker Kim promise not to invoke his right to put the bills to a floor vote in return for stopping the occupation at the chamber. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Kim as speaker has the authority under National Assembly law. In the 17th National Assembly when the Democratic Party was the ruling party, its assembly speaker invoked the same right five times. Back then, Chung supported the decision, saying, “Dialogue and compromise are the best solutions to controversial issues, but if they do not work, the majority rules in parliamentarism.”

Kim should also shoulder part of the blame for the latest chaos. Even in the face of a devastating parliamentary paralysis, he failed to serve his duty “as the head of the National Assembly to deal with deliberations and maintain order.” He also failed to keep his promise of “keeping order and passing bills relevant to the people’s livelihood.” The rage and disappointment of the people are beyond description. Nonetheless, the party and the speaker are ignoring the people’s resentment. Some are saying they would rather leave the country than tolerate the absurdity at the National Assembly.