[EDITORIALS]Above the lawThe National Assembly has significantly slowed down its discussions of sending noncombat troops to Iraq -- ever since civic groups began threatening lawmakers with possible election campaigns against them if they said yes to the idea. We are disappointed with some lawmakers seemingly frightened by the threat. But we are appalled by civic groups that are trying to prevail through such illegal threats. They appear to think of themselves as people above the law.
Anybody can express his opinions on whether he stands with or against any motion. But anyone cannot commit illegal activities to fulfill his goals. Although civic groups are saying that citizens have the right to campaign against candidates’ election, the Constitutional Court has already concluded that such an activity is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Supreme Court found guilty those who campaigned against candidates in the last election. Civic groups should try to persuade lawmakers while respecting laws.
Nevertheless, the current chaos has been partly brought about by the new government, which has disclosed a plan to revise concerned laws to allow election campaigns against certain candidates. The presidential transition committee earlier said it would announce certain standards that will allow civic groups to engage in election campaigns against candidates. President Roh Moo-hyun asked civic groups to refrain from threatening lawmakers, saying that any decision to stand against or with the motion to send troops is a matter of policy difference, not a matter of illegal campaigns or corruption, the cause for the anti-election campaigns in the first place. By saying that, he seemed to suggest that there are cases where such campaigns might be possible. We don’t think the president should be interpreting laws at his discretion.
The government should announce its clear stance on laws banning anti-election campaigns. Civic groups should respect laws and practices that protect the basics of a democratic society while engaging in activities for their cause. Civic groups are not infallible in their judgments. In particular, it is a matter of choice when it comes to a policy area on which national interest hinges. No unilateral opinion should be forced on this matter.