Why not release the list?It will not be easy to determine whether unionized teachers and civil servants were in violation of public service laws when they made regular donations to the minor liberal opposition Democratic Labor Party. The leader of the teachers’ union and 23 other union members were handed fines last week in a case that has caused an uproar around the country. The union members have already announced their intention to launch an appeal.
Now, the case must focus on whether the accused members of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union and the Korean Government Employees’ Union funded the DLP as civilians or as formal party members.
Some 273 members of the two unions are on trial in separate courts for contributing as members a combined total of more than 100 million won to the minority party. If that is true, they were in violation of a public service law that requires political neutrality. But if they made donations to individual legislators or aided the party through a monthly subscription to the party newsletter, they will be found innocent.
The case will ultimately serve as a yardstick for how government personnel and teachers involved in political activities will be dealt with in the future. It will also reveal whether the claim by both unions that their members have never been members of a political party or paid membership dues is true.
The court has demanded that the DLP submit a list of party members so the truth of the matter can be found. The judiciary is right to ask for the list of party members, as it a crucial piece of evidence in the case.
But the DLP has strongly resisted the court’s demand to turn over the list. They stashed away disks with the lists of party member names and donation amounts, characterizing the search as “political oppression.”
The party is well aware of the political neutrality regulation demanded of civil service employees. It should also know that public offices and educational institutions must remain free of political and ideological dispute. If it is truly innocent of the charge that it bypassed the law to increase its membership, the party has no reason to withhold the list of names.
The DLP is a formal member of the National Assembly that is required to receive and manage financial accounts registered with the National Election Commission. The party must pay the price if it knowingly violated the law by receiving money from public servants. If it feels an injustice has been committed, then it must prove it by unveiling the names of its members.
The liberal party stands for fairness and uprightness. If it is true to its name, it should have nothing to fear.
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