[EDITORIALS]Roh shuts off party debateIn a televised interview yesterday, President Roh Moo-hyun took the side of those calling for the abolition of the National Security Act. “The security act is part of a shameful history and it is an old vestige of the past dictatorial age which cannot be used now,” the president said. “Only when we abolish the security act can we say that Korea is finally on its way to becoming a truly civilized country.”
The president has the right to express his opinion on important policy matters and national issues, but he should be prudent in making comments that could fan the flames of strife among the people.
It is a shame to see the judicial branch and the executive branch of our government clashing over the issue of whether to abolish the National Security Act or to keep it. The Supreme Court is of the position that “we should not commit the folly of allowing [by abolishing the act] even the freedom of subverting our system of free democracy thus consequently losing our freedom and rights.” The Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of certain articles of the National Security Act in the past. The two main organs of the judiciary have ruled against the abolition of the National Security Act, but the president has stepped forward to stress the justice of abolishing it. Either the authority of the president or of the judicial branch is going to be damaged.
The president’s remarks also damaged a healthy process of gathering opinions within the government and the government party. Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan met with the chairman of the governing Uri Party, Lee Bu-young, and said that it was politically more advantageous for the party to push for the revision of the act rather than abolition. Kim Seung-kyu, the minister of justice, has said on several occasions the act should be kept. But now that the president has publicly spoken in favor of its demise, those within the government party who personally support revising it will probably not be heard from. If the president makes decisions, only hard-liners will remain in the government and the government party.
The National Security Act was abused by governments in the past, but it has also served to protect our country. North Korea still has no intention of abolishing its manifesto, which states that the North should “liberate” the South.
We should revise the act now and wait until there is more trust and an atmosphere of reconciliation.