[EDITORIALS]Political comedyThe governing and opposition parties are fighting a war of nerves over who to call as witnesses during the inspection of government agencies by the National Assembly, which begins a week from today. Some say the leaders of their rival parties must be called, while another lawmaker was even trying to make President Roh Moo-hyun take the witness stand. Courtesy has gone out the window.
The strife began with the governing Uri Party’s lawmakers’ demand to call Park Geun-hye, the Grand National Party’s chairwoman, and Seoul’s mayor, Lee Myong-bak, as witnesses. The Uri lawmakers said they wanted the two to testify about the Chungsu Scholarship Foundation, set up by Ms. Park’s father, and management of the Sangam Golf Range in Seoul, which falls under Mr. Lee’s purview. The Grand Nationals saw this as a ploy for the Uri Party to have a chance to smear two of its potential presidential candidates.
Then the Grand Nationals demanded that Moon Hee-sang, the Uri Party head, and Lee Kang-rae, an Uri lawmaker, testify concerning illegal wiretaps. It also demanded that the justice minister, Chung Jung-bae, testify about illegal campaign contributions a few years ago.
These calls are political tricks to embarrass the other side, defend against those attacks or just to talk big about their devotion to their own party. But the people whose names have been mentioned as witnesses probably feel as if their personal reputations are being called into question. That is why this feuding over witnesses must end.
Calling a witness for other than the purpose of the inspection is also a problem. The Culture and Tourism Committee asked a Korea Football Association official to testify about the Korean soccer team’s poor performance and the recent change in head coaches. Does the Assembly propose to run the nation’s sports programs?
But the ultimate case was perhaps the call by a legislator for President Roh, his brother and other relatives to appear before the Assembly. At least the party’s floor leader, Kang Jae-sup, put a quick end to that demand. “You cannot make a comedy out of politics,” he said.
Politicians should stop calling witnesses to insult them or damage their image. When moderation and the rules of the games are ignored, politics becomes a street brawl.