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Where is our rational Chung?

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July 21,2009
It has been four days since Chung Sye-kyun, chairman of the Democratic Party, announced his hunger strike. It is a sorry sight to see the leader of the main opposition party take such a drastic measure in order to get his point across. It is doubtful whether the media bills are important enough for the DP chairman to go on a hunger strike, and it’s sad that the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties have opted for these extreme measures.

Before he became head of the Democratic Party, Chung was considered a rational moderate. When he took the position of DP chairman, there were expectations that he would run a more rational, productive and future-oriented National Assembly. However, his actions since his inauguration have been disappointing, to say the least. A hunger strike should be a last resort. It is only acceptable when all democratic processes have been blocked. If they have not been, borrowing from Chung’s own words, it could just be a “political show” to block conversation and compromise.

Chung requested a meeting with President Lee Myung-bak. The Blue House has already refused this request, saying that the media bills are “the task of the National Assembly.”

Whether the fate of the media bills should be decided by summit talks between party leaders, or whether the National Assembly has had enough of negotiations is still under debate. In this kind of situation, a request for a meeting with President Lee Myung-bak can only be interpreted as an attempt to shift the burden onto him, rather than to solve the problem. Communication is a good thing, but if it is used as a way to pass off responsibility onto another, that is troubling. The Democratic Party promised to vote on the bills during the June session. That promise was delivered by Chung.

The chairman said that he will continue his hunger strike until National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyung-o promises not to use his official authority to impose his will on the matter. In a democratic society, the minority party’s opinion should be respected. Problems occur when the majority party refuses to use the democratic processes of communication and compromise and instead imposes its decision on the country. However, the Grand National Party has tried numerous times to cooperate, proposing a number of revised bills.

But the Democratic Party has closed its ears and opposed the bills altogether. Chung’s hunger strike, under these circumstances, is another obstinate way of refusing compromise if things don’t go his way. Although the majority should not go it alone, the minority should not act irrationally. One can only hope that “rational Chung” will return and recover his political strength.



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