Keep it in the AssemblyThe National Assembly shouldn’t be confused with a public square. The United Democratic Party, which has 81 seats, plans to leave the Assembly and go out into the streets. In Cheonggye Plaza, Gwanghwamun and Seoul City Hall Plaza, citizens are staging candlelight vigils every day, and the UDP members plan to join them. The UDP announced that it would stage a rally on Sunday afternoon in front of Myeongdong Cathedral, demanding a renegotiation of the deal to resume imports of U.S. beef. The party also plans to stage a protest tour across the country. It has clearly either forgotten or abandoned its duties.
Ordinary citizens are allowed to hold rallies in squares to express their opinions. But National Assemblymen shouldn’t join them. They need to reflect the citizens’ opinions. National Assemblymen are not leaders of civic groups. Their plan to join the rallies is a populist move.
As they don’t have the competence to push through the citizens’ opinions, they are trying to hide among the clamor of the crowds. The UDP was unable to pass a bill to fire the minister of food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, the person accountable for the beef import crisis. Now it’s trying to hide its incompetence.
Former student activist members of the party, who still have memories of staging street protests, are known to have drawn up the plan to join the rallies. Those former activists probably couldn’t refuse the requests of their friends in civic groups. But the party didn’t make the right decision. Because of this move, the first meeting of the 18th National Assembly, scheduled on June 5, can’t be held. It is unknown how long the National Assembly will flounder without even choosing a speaker or chairs of standing committees.
Most of all, the UDP members don’t seem to understand the reasons why they were defeated in three consecutive elections: the 2006 local elections, the 2007 presidential election and the 2008 legislative elections. The reason was that they were devoted to their convictions but unable to take on responsibility. The UDP members’ plan to join street rallies proves that they still prioritize conviction over responsibility.
The Liberty Forward Party, the second biggest opposition group, said it would look at the government’s response and may also consider protesting outside the National Assembly. As the LFP is known for following the correct procedures, we hope that the party won’t blindly follow, but will faithfully carry out its duties.