A breach of dutyThe nation has been thrown into chaos but the National Assembly is closed tight. The 18th National Assembly should have opened today but the three opposition parties refused to convene.
The United Democratic Party, the Liberty Forward Party and the Democratic Labor Party decided yesterday to postpone the opening of the Assembly until President Lee Myung-bak announces that there will be a renegotiation of the conditions for importing U.S. beef.
The three opposition parties said opening the National Assembly amid the radical tactics used by riot police to quell civic protests runs against public sentiment, and that the Grand National Party should co-sign the petition they are going to deliver to the administration, urging it to go back to the negotiation table with the United States.
By doing so, they have denied the existence of the National Assembly. The three opposition parties are claiming that police have used water cannons and stomped on people with combat boots when the protest was a way to urge the government to conduct right negotiations. It is the National Assembly’s job to find out whether the police were actually using excessive violence against a protest that was completely conducted in peace and whether the police should take responsibility.
The opposition should not be refusing to open the Assembly, but it should immediately open and hold hearings on the police and the protests.
Following surveys that the majority of the people want a renegotiation, the Korean government made an effort to make a new deal with Washington. But the U.S. said the initial agreement was based on scientific fact, virtually refusing to go through another negotiation. So the government is seeking a way to implement voluntary regulations for Korean importers and American exporters to follow.
This is another matter for the National Assembly. It should convene and determine whether renegotiation is actually impossible, and whether voluntary regulations can work.
When the government is trying to solve state problems, the opposition parties have no right to abandon their duties as stipulated in the Constitution.
The U.S. beef matter has upset the nation, and the National Assembly has not undertaken its role as a coordinator to settle the matter. The United Democrats were only interested in seeking revenge from the loss they suffered during the previous elections. The Democratic Labor Party’s political line that it opposes American beef and the bilateral free trade agreement, made it to the National Assembly. Instead they chose to go out in the streets to protest along with the people. Although the Liberty Forward Party did not participate in the protest, it took part in helping the two other parties that refused to open the Assembly, as if it wanted to stand out when it only has 18 seats. If going to the streets is so important, what will happen to Korea’s representative democracy?