Candlelight comeback

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Candlelight comeback

Two press conferences were held yesterday related to the deadly incident in Yongsan. In the morning, opposition parties and civic organizations held a press conference and unveiled their plan to hold an event on Feb. 1 at Cheonggye Plaza in memory of the “victims of the Yongsan manslaughter and to deter MB’s [President Lee Myung-bak’s] evil laws.”

Then in the afternoon, a national civic group organized around the Yongsan incident announced that an event to remember the victims would be held every weekend, beginning this Saturday, and that areas for candlelight vigils and for lighting incense in memory of those who died in the standoff would be set up across the country.

Regretfully, the remarks remind us of the candlelight vigils of last year that started with panic over mad cow disease. But what is most worrisome is that these are the same civic organizations that directed last year’s candlelight vigils. Even their press conference was billed as a “press conference to condemn violent and murderous crackdowns and to deter MB’s evil laws.”

The purpose itself conveys the feeling that these groups want to use the accident as a cause for anti-government protests. According to the Korea Economic Research institute, the social costs for the candlelight vigils last spring amount to 3.7 trillion won ($2.64 billion). Amid the economic crisis, we must avoid wasting our national resources and wealth again in the same manner.

In particular, the Democratic Party’s protest outside the National Assembly is inappropriate. Such a method was an extreme measure that political parties used to resort to under military rule since their legal activities were severely checked and limited. Instead, the party must find out whether the government is responsible for the incident, and work inside the National Assembly to draw up and pass a bill to prevent a similar case from occurring.

The Democratic Party has an enormous amount of work to do in the Assembly during February. First of all, it needs to hold confirmation hearings after the Cabinet reshuffle. Various bills to revive the economy that were postponed last year must no longer be delayed. A law to prevent violence in the National Assembly must be established.

The Democratic Party is a legitimate political party that must see through social division and conflict and unite society by working inside the National Assembly.

If Democrats want to take to the streets they must give up their positions as legislators. That’s the least that they can do for the people.
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