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[Editorial] Opposition Camp`s Reversal of Priorities

Posted February. 05, 2009 08:30,   


This month’s extra parliamentary session has the urgent imperative of passing bills to save the economy and restore sanity back to national affairs. State administration has been delayed since physical clashes broke out in the National Assembly at the end of last year. The International Monetary Fund says Korea’s economy will contract four percent this year, the lowest growth among the Group of 20 nations. The number of those employed in their 20s and 30s has fallen below 10 million for the first time since the government began recording the statistic. Under such dire circumstances, a lawmaker who does not believe the nation is in a state of emergency does not deserve his job.

No longer able to deny the people’s demand for a better economy, the chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party Chung Sye-kyun told a news conference Monday that the extra session will focus on creating jobs, a major departure from the party’s original intent to make the deadly Yongsan clash the main agenda. In a speech yesterday, however, party floor leader Won Hye-young blasted the clash as the result of “violent and murderous suppression by police.” Won also used extreme expressions such as “shadow of civil fascism.” His speech hinted at his party continuing to make the incident the main focus of the extra session.

The party also held a joint rally with leftist groups in Seoul Sunday, which was followed by a gathering to denounce the government’s handling of the Yongsan incident and “evil laws” in North Chungcheong Province two days later. It will continue to hold rallies in Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province Saturday followed by one in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province the next day. Another will follow in Incheon and Gyeonggi Province Thursday next week. Chung’s words ring hollow against this backdrop.

The Democratic Party has stood in the way of passing important bills. For example, media reform bills designed to meet the global trend of integration of broadcasting and communication failed to make it to the National Assembly due to the party’s opposition. It has also hindered the passing of another bill on extending the contract period of irregular workers, who could find themselves out of work from July. Moreover, the party has proposed then blasted as an “evil law” a bill intended to prevent demonstrators from wearing masks at rallies.

Just two days after stressing the importance of creating jobs, Chung said, “If the ruling party pushes ahead with bad policies, it will run into an aggressive confrontation by the Democratic Party.” It sounds as if the party is threatening to again turn the National Assembly into a hall of violence with sledgehammers and electric saws unless they get their way. Won says the ruling Grand National Party has trampled on the Constitution, but it is rather the Democratic Party that is hurting democratic values and the Constitution.

Bipartisan cooperation is essential in times of national crises. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party seems more interested in picking fights with the ruling party in the most obvious way. The Democratic Party’s low approval rating shows the public is interested in something else.