[EDITORIALS]Disrupting democracy

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[EDITORIALS]Disrupting democracy

The second public hearing convened by government ministries yesterday on a free trade pact between Korea and the United States was disrupted by protesters.
The members of a civic group named “Korean Alliance against KorUs FTA” broke into the hearing room, occupied it and created a ruckus.
The public hearing had been planned as a way for government negotiators to explain how the talks are going and to listen to the views of representatives of many interest groups. Because of the interruption of the meeting by the civic group, there was no chance to hear the opinions of the negotiators and of business interests.
The protesters against such an agreement of course have their own reasons for objecting. But they have no right to obstruct a public hearing that is being held under procedures set out by law.
They abandoned their chance to express their views in a lawful and peaceful way, instead choosing to interrupt the public hearing with violent methods.
That is an outrage going against democracy. Such an idea, “I will not listen to you, because it’s only me that’s right,” will never get any sympathy from the public and will never succeed in helping the group attain their goals.
The various groups that oppose a free trade pact with the United States are not representatives of the Korean people, but only interest groups. A public hearing is for expression of views from many interest groups and for guiding decisions on the proper solution. Therefore, denying and interrupting such a hearing with physical force is akin to denying Korean society’s democratic procedures and order.
In recent days, interest groups’ violence in pursuing their causes is increasing; the government is ignoring that violence.
A public hearing on measures to combat Korea’s low birth rate on June 12 was disrupted by the heads of children’s art schools, who demanded that they should also get government subsidies to nursery schools.
A public hearing on the loosening of regulations on the establishment of foreign schools was also interrupted by the opposing interest groups.
Neglecting these incidents will make it impossible to hold sound discussions and come up with a productive solution. Obstructions into public hearings should be ended.
The government should take a firm attitude against such illegalities.
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