Democracy rulesPoliticians are battling over the trials of candidates accused of negative campaigning during the presidential election campaign last year.
Early this year, two sitting lawmakers were charged with defaming Lee Myung-bak, and received two years and on-year prison sentences, respectively. Opposition parties are in uproar. They maintain that it defies common sense to investigate politicians for political revenge. Some say the lawsuits must be dropped immediately.
As always, the implication is that politicians must make compromises as the election is over. It is hard to find the slightest sign that the accused regret their negative campaigning. We believe their attitude is wrong. It’s a case of people making the law and then ignoring the law.
Members of the opposition criticize prosecutors for applying the law to political disputes that were aimed at evaluating the presidential candidates’ requirements. They say it is political revenge to punish legitimate political acts, which, they say, is not good for democracy.
But we believe that those indicted have passed a line that shouldn’t be crossed in the political arena. Defamation and groundless rumors can’t be regarded as political acts.
Prosecutors said that if an evaluation of rival candidates is degraded into a tool for defamation and libel, politics would regress significantly.
This is a persuasive argument, indeed. Politicians tend to distort public opinion. They believe nothing matters as long as they win elections.
Such practices must end.
The ruling party circle says it has no intention of withdrawing its lawsuits against the two lawmakers because opposition protest might be regarded as an attempt to pressure the court.
It is wrong if the political circle tries to interfere with the interpretation of the law and prosecution, which are exclusive duties of the court.
The rulings on 949 people charged with irregularities during the 17th presidential election should kick-start election reform. These rulings can show citizens and politicians the importance of abiding by the law. The political circle shouldn’t make these trials a political issue. Instead, they should show some regret for their negative campaigning and apologize.
They must humbly accept the court rulings. This is what the politicians of a democratic country should do.