[PLATFORM]A rapid move to democracyExcerpts of a recent speech by Chung Dong-young, chairman of Our Open Party, delivered at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
You were all witnesses to the passing of the impeachment motion against President Roh Moo-hyun at the National Assembly. I declare before you that this act was clearly a coup d’ etat by those who still want to pursue a Cold War order. In fact, it was a suicidal terrorist act against our people by men who irresponsibly abuse their might and power.
If this were not enough, this brutal act, this coup, was televised, even live, to countries around the world. Those of us, the few of us, tried to stop it with all our physical strength. But it was a helpless fight; I am deeply ashamed.
As you may know, the opposition’s reason for the impeachment is that the president has violated his duties to remain politically neutral. In a country where the president is allowed to join a party, a political remark by the president has brought about this detrimental result.
In a memorandum to the president, the National Election Commission presented its views about the president’s alleged violation of election laws. The NEC has warned and recommended that the president maintain a neutral position. But nowhere in the NEC’s memorandum does it say that he has violated election laws.
I don’t think there is a single country in the world where a president was impeached for such a trifling reason.
The Korean Bar Association had announced before the motion went to the Assembly that the president’s remark, that he would like to help the ruling party, is no grounds for impeachment. Many constitutionalists and experts in the Korean Political Science Association share a similar opinion. Numerous civic groups are condemning this unjustifiable impeachment motion.
Despite the resistance, however, the three opposition parties decided to go ahead with their scheme, and by force passed the impeachment motion. The only motive I see behind this is fear-the fear of total defeat during the general elections in April.
The March 12 coup d’etat was a parliamentary aggression: It was an aggression by ultra rightists who are losing their say as peace becomes prominent on the Korean peninsula, by regionalists losing their say as the Uri Party [Our Open Party] gains pan-nation support, and by those caught in black money and corruption.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a national tragedy. These groups should no longer have any say in our society. But their irresponsible action has brought about this damaging outcome with dangerous repercussions.
The media around the world is watching closely the developments in the Republic of Korea. The six-party talks, which has been progressing steadily, will it continue? Will Korea be able to overcome its economic stagnation? People are concerned.
However, so far, things appear to be operating normally. Prime Minister Koh Gun began his duty as the acting president, first holding a meeting with the National Security Council.
There is no friction of any kind with the North. Thus, the inter-Korea rail project continues, the six-party talks will be held further, and projects thus far planned between the two sides will continue. Fortunately, unlike concerns before the motion was passed, it appears that global credit rating houses are not considering any downgrading of our national sovereignty rating. Unlike expectations, there was no chaos.
There is a clear reason why. We were able to avoid possible national crisis because of the people. The people’s fundamental direction for our nation stands unified.
The Korean people have overcome many trials and tribulations throughout our history. Despite our short democratic history, we have been able to achieve the outstanding economic advancement we have today. This is because of the people.
President Roh Moo-hyun was elected by the people, for the people. And it is the people that will protect him. I also have faith in the Constitutional Court. I have faith in the Constitution and the legal system of this nation. This foundation will restore our democratic justice and democratic sovereignty.
As for us, the Uri Party and myself, as we had done it before, we will continue to do our utmost for the economic stability and livelihood of the people as a responsible ruling party.
Since the impeachment, I have been meeting with leaders of our society, representatives of the different economic sectors including the deputy prime minister of economic affairs.
I had the chance to earnestly discuss how we can overcome wisely this situation. We agreed that we should devote all we have to revitalize the economy.
[The party is proposing] a “Special Meeting of Economic Leaders for the Economic Stability of the Nation.”
Representatives of the business and labor sectors, senior leaders, scholars, representatives of the different factions-we must gather all our wisdom so that we can together work for the livelihood of the people.
We’ve always been proud of our world-class people. Korean politics was not up to that level. And we’ve been the stumbling block for further economic progress.
This incident will change Korean politics. It will be reborn into a politics that will no longer hinder nor mock the people but will work for their well being and happiness.
You have seen the candles burning nationwide. They are the light of our democracy.
Thanks to our amazing economic development, the world remembers us as the “Miracle of the Han River.” You will now witness a new miracle, the “candle miracle” by which Korea completes its democracy in the shortest period of time.
We have faith in our potential. Have faith in us.
The JoongAng Daily welcomes policy statements from the political parties.
* Chung Dong-young is the chairman of Our Open Party.
by Chung Dong-young