[EDITORIALS]Follow the elders’ adviceWe cannot but worry over the way both the ruling and the opposition parties are approaching the issue of whether to revise or abolish the National Security Law. We wonder in which direction our country is heading. The Uri Party is taking a hard-line, one-sided position since President Roh Moo-hyun spoke in support of the law’s abolition. The party has decided to amend related laws after abolishing the security law, and is preparing alternative provisions that will facilitate the abolition. And the voice of those who advocated revision or handling it discreetly have disappeared.
The Grand National Party is also in a rigid atmosphere. Chairwoman Park Geun-hye has stepped forward saying, “I will stake all I have on it.” She proposed a partial revision, maintaining the basic features of the current law intact. The differences of ideas, and the emotional gap between both sides are growing bigger and wider. It looks inevitable that they will collide head on at the forthcoming regular session of the Assembly. Now the issue is on the stage of dividing the nation’s opinion.
We feel frustrated at the scene. Is this the time for us act like this? How can things go this far? In this sense, President Roh Moo-hyun can hardly evade his responsibility for aggravating the situation. In the beginning, the atmosphere in the political community was not confrontational like this. Comparing the assertions of both sides, there was ample room for compromise. Suddenly, President Roh claimed in a current affairs program on television that the law must be abolished, driving the political circles into a life or death struggle.
The nation is in a situation where the economy is in difficulties and people’s livelihoods are getting worse. It is regrettable that the nation is again stirred by the words of the president when the wasteful controversy over the law was about to be subdued by the consecutive decisions of the Constitutional and Supreme courts in support of the security law. In fact, the security law is not an urgent issue, because the right to implement the law is in the hands of the president. The president can prevent its misuse for political purposes without problems for a considerable period of time. Therefore, we cannot but suspect the intentions of the president; why is he driving the whole nation to confrontation?
At the moment, people are shrouded with extreme unease. They don’t know which direction the nation is moving in. President Roh and the ruling camp must listen to the statement issued by the senior leaders of the society, including seven former prime ministers and five former speakers of the National Assembly.
Under a classification of dividing the nation into friends and enemies, the senior leaders might not be “friends” of the ruling camp. But the majority of them are the contributors to make Korea “the 11th economic power of the world,” which Mr. Roh pointed out also. And they are not people eager to add a title or honor to top off their career.
Such people express their worries in unison, saying, “The security and peace of the Korean Peninsula is in danger.” Their demand to stop one-sided promotion of the capital move, the abolition of the security law and the rectification of historical wrongs, and the request to take care of the economy and national security, should be accepted wholeheartedly.
Even now, obstinacy and uncompromising attitudes should be abandoned. Most necessary is a pragmatic way of thinking. We shouldn’t stick to old ideologies and doctrines. Especially, we must throw away hostility against rivals. We must see the whole picture instead of trying to seek factional interests and strategies.
The best way is for the ruling and opposition parties to scrutinize the legal provisions one by one, face to face. In the presence of experts, the law should be reexamined and alternatives should be worked out. Reasonable and rational approaches bring easy solutions unexpectedly.
If we pay attention to practicality, the title of the law cannot be a problem. Whether it be a revision or a substitute law, the ruling and the opposition parties can work out an agreement. A meeting between President Roh and Ms. Park could be a big help.
The situation is deteriorating day by day. Mr. Roh’s task is not the security law or rectification of past history. If national opinion is divided, people lose faith in the government and the nation is in crisis, what is the use of discarding the law and correcting past wrongs?