[EDITORIALS]Civic groups fulfilling role?A huge portion of incumbent and former executive members from the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy have taken public office in the past 12 years, according to Lew Seok-choon, a sociology professor at Yonsei University. One third or 150 senior members of the nation’s leading civic organization have been seated in high-ranking government posts or participated in committees set up by the government. They have advanced into pivotal positions, such as prime minister, deputy prime minister and minister, wielding strong influence over state affairs.
The civic group states in its regulations that the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy is designed to supervise state authority with voluntary participation. However, the survey by professor Lew is evidence that the organization has either forgotten about its proper role or is increasingly transforming itself to side with the government and gain political power.
How can those civic group members monitor state power when they have already gained authority? Once forging ties with the government, they will inevitably have to move their focus to understanding and cooperation. In President Roh Moo-hyun’s administration, which garnered the nickname “committee republic” for creating numerous state committees, many critics have already pointed out that government policies almost always coincide with those proposed by the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. And the government may find it difficult to deny the accusation because it has actually brought that criticism upon itself by inviting so many members from civic groups.
Full-time activists at the organization may refute that they have done their best to serve their role of closely watching the government, regardless of the senior members’ foray into government posts.
However, the recent poll by professor Lew will make it hard for members to deny that they have taken advantage of their jobs to make their way in the world.
A decent post at a civic group has almost automatically accelerated promotion to a high-ranking government post during this administration.
The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy has indeed voiced objection to a range of corruption cases and violations of human rights. Its contributions so far are undeniable.
However, its degeneration into sort of a subordinate government organization will bring misfortune to everyone.