[EDITORIALS]Unity and restraint are essentialTension is rising to a serious level in our society since the National Assembly passed an impeachment motion against President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday. There has been at least one major street rally every day, either for or against the impeachment, since the motion was passed. The number of people and degree of emotion are escalating with every rally, leading to fears of violence and even disruption of the general election next month. It is imperative that we resolve our conflicts if we are to overcome this difficult situation. We must all refrain from giving in to our frustrations and keep calm.
Some 500 civic groups formed a coalition opposing the impeachment and gathered in Gwanghwamun over the weekend to hold candlelight vigils. Similar demonstrations were held in other big cities, including Busan, Daegu and Gwangju. On the other side, conservative groups opened rallies welcoming the passage of the impeachment motion. There have been a string of anonymous calls to authorities threatening to blow up the National Assembly building and the headquarters of the two major opposition parties. Some people have even tried to set themselves on fire as a means of protesting the impeachment.
It is unfortunate that President Roh and the opposition parties failed to reach a compromise before we reached this point. Neither side would back down from its initial position, but in retrospect it is the president’s lack of tolerance that left most to be desired. The three opposition parties, the Grand National Party, the Millennium Democratic Party and the United Liberal Democrats, cannot escape censure for forcibly passing the impeachment motion without amassing due public consensus. But these are all things of the past. The reality we find ourselves in now is too desperate to start blaming others and pointing fingers. We still have a North Korean nuclear crisis and multitudes of unemployed young people seeking jobs in this economic recession.
These are formidable tasks that we could not solve easily even if we united our powers. If our society remains fractured and we are unable to unite our dispersed energy, we have no future. In an unprecedented situation in our constitutional history, we stand at a point where we must decide whether we are to go forward or regress.
We must turn this crisis into an opportunity to unite our people. If our country is to go forward, we must concentrate our energy. The government, all the political parties and social leaders must join hands to resolve this situation.
Prime Minister Goh Kun, the acting president, must take all measures to prevent and control illegal and violent rallies and ensure public order. It is our hope that Our Open Party leads the call for demonstrators to restrain themselves. If the party tries to turn a blind eye to or encourage the rallies, it would be committing a sin. The party must remember that violent rallies could turn public opinion against it.