[OUTLOOK]Broken nest, unsafe eggs“The only way to save Europe from crafty, corrupt and spoiled representative democracy is through the transfusion of the primitive but fresh blood of Nazism.”
This was the reason some European intellectuals gave at the time they gave support to the Nazi Party. Throngs of people agreeing with those sentiments allowed fascism to bulldoze through legislature and paved the road to a dictatorship by the administration.
Judging from the reports carried in mass media nowadays, especially public broadcast media, it looks as if there is no more pathetic system and group of people than the National Assembly and its members.
The headline news for the past few days can be summarized into one sentence: The most corrupt and incompetent people in this country are paid highly with tax money and monopolize state affairs with the help of a worn-out, unproductive system. The broadcasts were slight different in nuances and details, but both the governing and the opposition parties ended up looking ridiculous after a senseless bout of mudslinging.
Looking back, it was not just in recent days that the National Assembly and the legislators were portrayed in a negative light. But the miserable fall in past years seems to have come after the prosecutors’ investigation into bribery cases, in which businessmen used trucks to deliver cash to politicians, that covered media headlines a few months ahead of the legislative lelections.
The biggest damage was sustained by the then-majority party and the current opposition, the Grand Nation-al Party. With the announcement of almost systematic expansion of the scale of bribery, as if they were planned, and the Uri Party’s appeal to that it was less in the wrong than the Grand Nationals because the amount it received was less, the Grand National Party ended up taking the lion’s share of the criticism.
Of course, the Uri Party could not escape public censure, try as it might. Some boomerang effects went back to the Uri Party. The National Assembly and its legislators had now become deeply associated with corruption and bribery in the people’s minds.
In addition, the latest cabinet reshuffle further demoted the status of the legislators in the people’s hearts. The former and incumbent leaders of the majority party became ministers and Mr. Roh even selected the election campaign manager of the majority party to become prime minister.
While not as extreme as during the Park Chung Hee regime, when the head of the administration could appoint one-third of the National Assembly members, the legislature seems to have become rather small and even used as a tool by the administration.
Recently a governing party legislator harshly criticized the Constitutional Court at a government hearing at the National Assembly, showing the intention to demote the judiciary.
This legislator called the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the transfer of the capital city a “judicial coup” and demanded the resignation of the justices who had participated in the ruling. Reportedly, the legislator had planned to make even bigger threats but was restrained by other party members.
The Constitutional Court’s grounds for its ruling, a customary constitution, is controversial, and its swift and firm ruling came as a surprise to many people in Korea. It must have been a heavy blow to the governing party, which had pursued this plan for two years and had taken the transfer all but for granted.
The transfer of the capital city was a campaign promise made by the president, who is the head of the administration, and all the main agencies implementing or trying to implement this plan are in the executive branch.
The Constitutional Court had already been suffering enough from the haggling of certain pro-government civic groups and members of some political forces for its ruling that transferring the capital would be unconstitutional.
To see a member of the legislature use such strong words to attack the Constitutional Court makes one wonder if the administration isn’t using the legislation to demote the judiciary.
Some people claim that the present administration and the president do not really have that much power and that such suspicions are unfounded ones resulting from seeing politics as an intrigue. But what small comfort would it be even if the administration, legislation and the judiciary are all just sinking together?
In “The Romance of Three Kingdoms,” when Gongyung of the North Sea is killed by Cao Cao, his two sons are advised to flee. The two answer in unison, “How do you expect an egg to be safe in a broken nest?” Then they wait for Cao Cao to send someone to kill them.
The three branches of the government make up the nest that protects democracy. If the nest is broken or rotten, how can the egg be safe?
* The writer is a novelist. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Lee Moon-youl