[EDITORIALS]Protests Are Getting Out of Hand

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[EDITORIALS]Protests Are Getting Out of Hand

Every group and organization seems to be planning outdoor demonstrations. Interest groups are busy raising their voices only for their benefit, as are individuals.

These groups do not seem to care about the national or public interest or law and order. We see violence, roadblocks and arson by people taking their grievances to the street. Government officials seem to have lost interest in maintaining law and order as President Kim's power drains away and their attention is on politicking and next year's elections.

Tourist hotel owners vowed that, if the government does not allow them to install slot machines and steam baths, they will reject reservations by foreigners, including soccer teams coming for the World Cup 2002 and officials from FIFA, the governing body for world soccer. Slot machines and steam baths? We are astonished by this threat. Hotels should focus on preparing for the World Cup now. How can they think of other things when fewer than 200 days are left before the event? They are saying steam baths and slot machines are needed to revive tourism and bail out hotels from their economic pinch. Even if that claim is true, rejecting reservations does not help their distressed situation.

The World Cup is a festival of people from all over the world. Hotel owners should take pride in participating in the preparations for the event. They will surely face the people's wrath if they turn a cold shoulder to the world.

Farmers' demonstrations are a problem as well. Including the massive demonstration held Tuesday in Yeouido, there have been farmers' rallies almost every day throughout the country for some time.

Farmers are persuasive when they criticize the failures of farm policy and oppose the import of basic farm produce, including rice. The government should listen to them and come up with countermeasures as soon as possible. But farmers should also be immaculate in their procedures, though, if they do not want to lose the legitimacy they need. Public opinion might turn against farmers if they blockade roads, obstruct traffic, and turn violent.

The Korea Teacher's and Educational Worker's Union is planning to stage a de facto general strike on Nov. 26. Reportedly, 90,000 members will take the day off. They already stirred controversy when 15,000 members held a similar rally on Oct. 27.

They are asking Seoul to revise the law governing private schools; they oppose the introduction of merit-based pay, independent high schools and other policies.

It is not the right time to take matters to the street, although the demands and arguments by groups and organizations may be justified. National politics is already in disarray. If every group and organization wants to prevail by violent demonstrations, we do not know where the whole nation will head in the future.

To correct policies responding to a changed social environment, everyone has to combine efforts to come up with solutions. The people would be better convinced if demands and arguments by groups and organizations were delivered to the government through due process.

It is time for the government to crack down and enforce the law strictly. Law and order should be coolly restored according to principles and accepted standards.

The government should let the people know by its actions that even reasonable demands pursued by illegal and unreasonable collective protests will not be addressed.
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