[VIEWPOINT]Don’t let the word ‘citizen’ be misusedPoliticians repeatedly mention the word “citizen,” and can’t seem to make a speech without mentioning it. But when they use the word, it is uncertain who they mean and whether they mention it to rationalize a biased argument.
In a modern country, the word “citizen” means an aggregate of the people. Citizens are both supporters of the governing party and of the opposition. Whether one belongs to the liberal faction, the conservatives or the middle of the road ideologically, they are all the same citizens, rich or poor.
However, the concept of “citizen” that politicians refer to is obscure and vague. If we talk in precise terms, it is nothing but a play on words without any sincerity.
Nowadays, almost everybody misuses the word “citizen” profusely. I am worried, because such undesirable behavior of “hiding behind the word citizen” has even spread to civic groups. It sows confusion in our society.
Some civic groups misuse the word “citizen” indiscriminately, in the same way as the politicians, to spread specific ideas or support certain political forces.
They continually insist that the value they support is absolute. And they try to get across their own view at all costs, assuming that its concept or value is superior to the existing laws.
As a result, a situation often occurs in which the law and systems established by the consensus of the majority of the citizens are often slighted or neglected.
After the reform drive of the present government went into full gear, the judiciary responded by emphasizing the so-called “reform of the judiciary for the citizen,” “the judiciary that respects the citizen” and even the theory of a “Supreme Court judge for the citizen.”
These are expressions that had never been used before, even at a time of leadership change in the judiciary. Therefore, it is necessary to define the meaning of the expressions there is no misunderstanding among the people. There are too many people who do not know the exact meaning of “the judiciary that respects the citizen.”
And it is also questionable whether such a a word is suitable for use by the judges, who have to protect justice faced by the interested parties in a lawsuit by deducting, interpreting and applying positive law.
The constitution is the highest law of a country and is promulgated by the consensus of the citizens. It includes the national goals and the fundamental values of the nation. The laws and acts enacted by the legislative branch are the tools that materialize the spirit and contents of the constitution.
And government administration is nothing but a procedure to implement and materialize the national interests defined by the constitution and the law.
In the administration of the government, questions arise, such as, what is the highest value stipulated by the constitution?
Or, does a certain government policy violate the constitution and the law? In these cases, the judiciary has to decide the national interest stipulated by the constitution and the law.
The authoritative and exclusive responsibility of the judiciary is the highest authority of the nation. And the legislature that promulgates the law and the president, who is both the head of the state and the head of the administration, should respect and follow the authority of the judiciary.
At this time, the judges must look for the will of the citizens and the national interest only with regard to the spirit of the constitution and the detailed stipulations of legal provisions.
They should not be swayed by political pressure, especially from civic groups with loud voices, and by the relative degree of intimacy, including the bad practice of honoring former judges who served at the same court proceedings.
If the judiciary works in this way, we can safeguard and materialize our national interest. And this is actually the right way of realizing “the judiciary that respects the citizens.”
Regardless of whether they are politicians or civic groups, those who demand a trial agreeable to their own taste, while decorating their cause with the vague word “citizen,” are apparently challenging the rule of law, one of the highest values of the constitution. It is rather an act that obstructs “trial for the citizen.”
If the court uses the obscure word “judiciary for the citizen” carelessly, it can create the misunderstanding that judges also triy to ride the tide of the times. The judiciary should be discreet in its use of words.
* The writer is an honorary representative of the law firm, Bae, Kim & Lee. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kim In-sup