Deplorable acts

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Deplorable acts

President Lee Myung-bak shocked the nation when he deplored the “serious political crisis” yesterday.

Regardless of the extent of his culpability, it is a serious matter when the nation’s leader makes such a diagnosis.

It’s a sure sign of the times that most people in the country agree with the president on the matter at hand, which is regrettable.

Korea faces political turmoil, with its economy in an unprecedented crisis, but while political leaders in other countries play a pivotal role in resolving economic difficulties, ours are featured on the front cover of Time magazine brawling.

The Wall Street Journal Online chose Korea, as well as India and China, as an attractive destination for investment. Our economy upholds the nation’s prestige amid a global economic meltdown, but we have been laid open to ridicule by photographs of Korean politicians behaving so abysmally.

Our lawmakers should work to wipe away people’s tears, not cause them to weep in embarrassment.

Authority and trust are at the core of political leadership, but both are fading away as the bickering continues, heard all around the world. Everyone’s to blame - the president, the National Assembly speaker, party floor leaders, newly elected members of the National Assembly, leaders of the progressive and conservative forces.

The more they strike out at each other, the less the public trusts them and the weaker our nation becomes.

While the president is right to be angry, he should also admit that he and his party carry a huge responsibility for recent events. During the candlelight vigils last year, the president failed to abide by the law; he forfeited City Hall Plaza and Sejongno to illegal forces. And then he let the National Assembly spiral out of control.

Opposition forces aren’t afraid of the president, to say nothing of the National Assembly speaker and the ruling party. The party in power brought up a bill on the ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement before the National Assembly, but caved under pressure from the opposition.

The same may be said of reform bills for the economy, social issues and media law.

And we have already pointed out that utter confusion in the Assembly will last longer than expected and the aftershocks will continue to rock the country.

As might have been expected, lawmakers continue to show little respect for the public. The Democratic Party illegally occupied the National Assembly for a long time, hampering proceedings.

Although the ruling and opposition parties came to an agreement for normalization, Democrats should have restrained themselves.

However, nine Democrats left for Thailand to play golf during Assembly sessions. They gave the excuse that they paid all their expenses themselves.

The National Assembly fell into utter confusion because of their actions. Yet they behave as if nothing had happened.

Do they have no sense of responsibility as public officials and no sense of honor?

The National Assembly convened again but lawmakers in several committees relevant to planning and finance, law, culture and broadcasting, and foreign affairs and commerce had already left the country under the guise of various official causes.

They claim that their trips are a customary practice. If so, why didn’t they try harder to protect more important customs in the Assembly?

The three party floor leaders overlooked their status as leaders and appeared on a television talk show, flattered each other, and sang a pop song together with their arms around each other’s shoulders. It was as if it were a KBS comedy like “Gag Concert.”

They were poised to leave for the United States and Mexico but gave up that schedule because of people’s harsh criticism. If these men are the leaders of the National Assembly, we are clearly on a downward path.

Kang Ki-kab, chairman of the Democratic Labor Party, apologized to the Assembly plenary about the violence, but he added, “Only the people will judge me.”

Lee Hoi-chang, the leader of the Liberty Forward Party, said, “I hope that we can initiate the Moral Rearmament movement in the National Assembly.” There is an urgent need to overhaul the nation’s political system across the board, beyond a quick fix.

The president and the party in power must regain their authority and win public support by abiding by laws, order and promises.

The National Assembly in February will be a testing ground. The National Assembly speaker and leaders of the ruling and opposition parties should be at the forefront of reforming the Assembly in a comprehensive manner by dispelling violence.

We need consultations on how to improve the system of running the National Assembly.

Lawmakers should topple low-brow comedian party floor leaders and elect new leaders for them.
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