[EDITORIALS]Wash his mouth with soap

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[EDITORIALS]Wash his mouth with soap

Is freedom of speech unlimited for National Assembly members? It seems so, as illustrated by the comments of Representative Song Sok-chan of the Millennium Democratic Party at the first National Assembly hearings of the year.

Mr. Song employed all the visceral language he could muster to attack the opposition leader, Lee Hoi-chang. Mr. Song accused Mr. Lee's father of acting as a proxy for the Communist Party of South Korea during the period between liberation and the Korean War. Mr. Song also accused Mr. Lee's son, Lee Jeong-yeon, of receiving tens of billions of won from a business tycoon's son. He said some drastic things that could not be said without evidence outside the Assembly under the excuse that he learned the facts from his constituents. If only part of his accusations are based on truth, they should be scrutinized by the law enforcement authorities.

Mr. Song's attack on Mr. Lee's family members is in part a response to the Grand National Party's attack on President Kim Dae-jung and his family. But Mr. Song went too far. In the text of his statement distributed before he spoke, Mr. Song asked the government if "it had the will to rid Mr. Lee Hoi-chang, the 'root of evil,' who was attempting to ride on the 'axis of evil' bandwagon of George W. Bush, 'an avatar of evil,' in order to realize his presidential ambitions." Mr. Song's comments threaten national unity at a time when the president has reiterated the need to solidify the security alliance between South Korea and the United States and when the U.S. president is about to arrive.

Mr. Song has been known to make absurd remarks before. A year ago, after he was sent to the United Liberal Democrats by President Kim, who was then the president of the Millennium Democratic Party, he sent a letter pledging his loyalty to the president and compared himself to a salmon who invariably returns to its birthplace. We may be tempted to brush aside his new remark as the latest in a series of inanities. But timing is everything, and it is all the more so this time around. We should not overlook the situation where a legislator has called the chief executive of an ally an 'avatar of evil' at a session of the National Assembly. The Millennium Democratic Party should not make feeble excuses, but issue an apology both to the nation and the United States and eliminate Mr. Song's remarks from the Assembly's records.
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