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[Editorial] Opposition Party’s Boycott of Parliament

Posted June. 15, 2009 06:54,   


The main opposition Democratic Party yesterday refused to join the National Assembly yesterday, demanding five preconditions at a meeting of floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties to negotiate the opening of this month’s extraordinary parliamentary session. Democratic Party floor leader Lee Kang-rae said, “A full-fledged negotiation will likely come after President Lee Myung-bak returns from his U.S. visit. The ruling party is not cooperating.” This is part of the opposition party’s attempt to hold the ruling party accountable for the disruption of parliament, though the former blocked the opening of the parliamentary session June 1.

The five preconditions are President Lee’s apology for the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun and punishment of those deemed accountable; an independent investigation into Sejoong Namo Tour CEO Chun Shin-il and former National Tax Service Commissioner Han Sang-ryule; a parliamentary probe into the alleged excessive investigation into Roh; and a new parliamentary committee on prosecution reform. These preconditions imply that the Democratic Party has effectively declared that it will snub parliament unless the ruling camp admits that Roh died due to political retaliation. The demand for the parliamentary probe means the opposition party seeks to push the government into a corner by likening the bribery probe into Roh to attempted murder by the administration. The proposed independent probe into Chun and Han is also meant to torment the government by turning the election funds President Lee used in the last presidential election into a political issue.

Democratic Party lawmakers including Chairman Chung Sye-kyun joined en masse yesterday an event marking the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, following their participation Wednesday in a nationwide protest to celebrate the 1987 democratic movement. Chung said at yesterday’s event at Jangchung Gymnasium in central Seoul, “As we did at Seoul Plaza Wednesday, let’s unite in pressing President Lee Myung-bak into upholding the two joint declarations signed by his predecessors and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on June 15, 2000, and Oct. 4, 2007.” Though certain Democratic Party members have urged their party to act prudently to avoid the impression that the party is exploiting Roh’s death for political interests, their voices are being drowned out by a hard-line stance.

The National Assembly should urgently deal with a host of bills directly linked to the people’s livelihood, along with a revised bill to the Non-Regular Employees Act and a media bill. It should also discuss countermeasures against North Korea, which is ratcheting up its military threats amid the U.N. Security Council’s passage of a resolution imposing sanctions. Lawmakers joining parliament is not a subject for negotiation. If they have an issue or demand, they must present them at the National Assembly. The complaint over the criminal investigation into Roh can also be dealt with by the parliamentary legislation and judiciary committee.

If the Democratic Party continues to abuse the former president’s death for political advantage and ignore its responsibility for the National Assembly and the people’s livelihood, it will see its temporarily higher approval rating plummet again and incur a backlash from the people.