[Outlook]Lawless Assembly

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[Outlook]Lawless Assembly

Koreans are living in a country where illegal acts are commonplace and even encouraged. This lawless situation doesn’t match the nation’s status as the world’s 11th-largest economy and a member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. But these illegal acts I speak of are not the violence that has occurred during candlelight rallies protesting the imports of U.S. beef.

The Grand National Party has decided to drop some 30 lawsuits related to violations of election law that took place during last year’s presidential election campaign. Illegal acts during candlelight vigils are nothing compared to this decision. If the political circle ignores the law, it will have a bad influence on the people that is much worse than physical violence at demonstrations.

Koreans may criticize politicians and their acts severely, but they are nonetheless highly interested in politicians’ words, and thus they are under their influence.

The chairman and floor leaders of the GNP are said to have played a central role in making the decision. They passed the national bar exam when they were in their early 20s and served as law experts and lawmakers for more than 30 years.

It is, however, doubtful whether they are aware of the spirit of the Constitution or separation of powers. It’s even doughtful that they have thoroughly read the Constitution.

The GNP’s decision shows that the politicians believe politics is more important and powerful than the basic institutions of our society, such as the Constitution and the law.

The leaders of the United Democratic Party welcomed the decision, saying it is rational and for a greater cause.

This response is also difficult to stomach. The terms “a greater cause,” “patriotism” and “rationality,” oft used to describe this case, are far from suitable.

If leaders of the legislature have this way of thinking and such thinking leads to action, the country can’t be a constitutional nation.

How can they tell the people to abide by the law? It is difficult to guess what measures they will take when the people don’t abide by the laws that they have enacted.

The politicians are repeating the bad, old custom of breaking promises to the people. This implies that they believe compromises can be made as soon as elections are over. As the people are preoccupied with candlelight vigils, the politicians are trying to solve their problems while nobody is looking.

If the politicians are concerned about the country, they shouldn’t make remarks that undermine the country’s law and order. In particular when things are difficult, leaders should be different from ordinary citizens.

During the last presidential election, ruling and opposition party members alike promised to get rid of illegal practices during campaigns. Now, they should be ashamed. They have abandoned morality and thus lost their dignity.

They said they need to resolve the chaos in the country and prioritize the livelihoods of the people in the National Assembly. But using these issues as excuses, the politicians have shaken the country’s foundation.

As the law is being ignored along with rightful principles, the people are confused and don’t know what values they need to uphold, or what values they can count on.

Last spring, the courts and the prosecutors’ office held conferences and announced measures to eliminate illegal practices in campaigns. All citizens applauded the decision. Swift investigations and trials are keys to handling those who are charged with violations of the election law.

A person who is not eligible to be elected shouldn’t hold the post of a lawmaker even for a day. The court and the prosecutors must not reflect the politicians’ compromise in their investigations and trials.

It is often said that opportunities can be found in a crisis. Politicians are afraid to get punished by the law that they themselves have enacted, which is another good reason to carry out investigations and trials on them.

Korean politicians have always had to use the people as a base of support for their words or deeds. Politicians have repeatedly said that power comes from the people. Those politicians who try to deceive the people and dishonor their position must be punished.

The method is simple - to faithfully abide by the laws that the politicians have ignored. The court and the prosecutors can handle cases in accordance with the law and citizens can exercise their right to vote.

The law must be abided by and there can’t be exceptions. The politicians who abandon the minimum degree of integrity that their jobs require must be evaluated by the law and judged by the people.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Woo-suk
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