Giving new life to old barbs

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Giving new life to old barbs

Of late, every time a parliamentary session convenes, legislators busy themselves trading charges of corruption. But most of the verbal attacks were initiated long ago, so politicians are focusing on decorating the old allegations with hyperbole and giving them new life with smear tactics to attract public attention.

Perhaps it is all too natural in such a setting for members of the National Assembly to spit out irresponsible things like ?he Millennium Democrats are communist partisans?or ?r. Lee of the Grand National Party is a head of organized crime.?Though no blows were exchanged, the level of yelling and screaming has become alarming.

This sorry state of affairs results from the win-or-die strategies that both parties are fielding ahead of the by- and re-elections on Aug. 8, which are regarded as a ?ini?general election. The Grand National Party? meat of the day is the string of corruption scandals surrounding the Kim Dae-jung administration. The strategy paid off handsomely during the local elections on June 13. This time around, the conservative opposition has added to the list
allegations surrounding some 5 trillion won ($4.3 billion) of bailout funds and possible neglect of duty on the part of government officials during negotiations with China on garlic imports. Somewhere along the way, the GNP came to rely on the ?hock effect?by saying things like Roh Moo-hyun, the presidential candidate of the Millennium Democratic Party, is the culprit in a cover-up of the alleged corruption of the president's sons.

On the other hand, the Millennium Democrats, who are sure to see their party? prospects dwindle further should they lose the elections in August, have come up with a strategy that seeks to harm Lee Hoi-chang? public persona. Just yesterday, the party that used to be led by the president raised an allegation that the top military doctor and Mr. Lee? younger brother collaborated to divert attention from suspicions that Mr. Lee's son is a draft dodger, a subject that is not new.

The leaders of both parties should try to make the National Assembly what it should be, i.e., a gathering of representatives to discuss the welfare of the people and the running of the nation. They should support efforts to make the August 8 election a fair competition where the candidates?visions and careers are evaluated.

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