[EDITORIALS]Be careful when looking backThe National Assembly’s government administration committee approved an amendment bill to the law that establishes a commission to look at the issue of Korean collaborators during the Japanese occupation. The bill was one of the four “reform” bills of the governing Uri Party. The opposition Grand National Party, however, dubbed them the “four evil bills that divide the nation.”
We believe the amendment improved the original law but still has fundamental problems.
First, the bill includes the possibility for politically exploitation. It broadened the scope of the investigation to include Koreans who served as officers of second lieutenant ranks or higher in the Japanese armed forces. Also, it includes those who served in the Japanese police, military police and the Japanese corporation and bank that were established to control the land and funds of Koreans.
Doing so would allow the panel to investigate former President Park Chung Hee, who held the rank of second lieutenant in the Japanese Army and the fathers of many opposition party leaders who worked for the Japanese police and bank.
It is evident that the bill, if passed by the full Assembly, will cause a nasty political fight. We are concerned that such a case may take place in which the human rights of some people will be violated because they will be labeled as “children of collaborators.”
The second problem is that the commission will be established under the president, according to the bill. If it is not politically independent, the commission will follow in the footsteps of the Presidential Commission on Suspicious Deaths, which was criticized for being biased.
President Roh Moo-hyun has suggested that there is a need to acknowledge left-wing independent activists who have so far been obscured. We worry that the commission may favor only these leftist activists.
We hope the bill can be adjusted before it is finally approved at the plenary session of the Assembly. Also, we ask that the proposed commission be made up of members who are experienced, impartial and independent.
Finding out the truth concerning the collaborator issue is necessary. But in doing so, we should not divide the nation and violate human rights. We ask politicians and the people make an effort to find out not the political, but the historical truth.