Democracy’s collapsePeople are resisting the administration’s suppression of the media, which started with President Roh’s paranoid views. The International Press Institute sent a statement to Roh outlining worries that the government’s new policy may harm freedom of the press. The Roh government’s restrictions on press rooms in government facilities are becoming an international embarrassment.
The Korean Bar Association also released a statement protesting the government’s press room restructuring plans, which it calls “Support for Advanced News Gathering Systems.”
Finally, the United New Democratic Party members who have supported most of Roh’s policies yesterday objected to the president’s media policy. “If the government continues the restructuring of press rooms, we lawmakers may consider stopping the Roh government’s access to the national budget,” said Kim Hyo-seuk, current floor leader of the UNDP at the National Assembly.
Government officials, although avoiding expressing their true opinions on the issue, are known to be against the government’s policy. Statements from journalists covering the government will continue to be issued.
We are witnessing resistance just like the people’s movement for democracy 20 years ago. At the time, the movement against the dictatorship, which was started after a Seoul National University student was found to have been tortured to death, demanded a direct presidential election. But the government continued to defend the Constitution at the time which instituted indirect elections and collided with the people. The result was the June 29 declaration by Roh Tae-woo, who later became the president.
The movement for democracy is the very basis for the power this government is enjoying. Does this government, which has its foundation in the people’s power, truly not know that they are turning the clock of democracy back 20 years by suppressing freedom of the press? Or does the government not have the courage to withdraw its bad decisions?
We have previously demanded that Roh, who brought up the issue in the first place, resolve the current situation. He, however, is keeping silent. While doing so, the pillar of democracy, a free press, is decaying. However important the coming presidential election may be, neglecting the problem is a deriliction of duty.
The National Assembly has to move forward and stop democracy in this country from collapsing.