The GNP is going too farEmbarrassed by the clout of social networking services like Twitter and frustrated by the “Bus for Hope” rallies - a group of leftist activists and politicians who regularly paraded to the scene of a year-long sit-in atop a crane by labor activist Kim Jin-sook to show their support for her battle against Hanjin Heavy Industries’ large-scale layoffs - the ruling Grand National Party has vented its anger on prosecutors.
After an earlier attempt to put the brakes on the prosecution’s investigation into wild rumors in cyberspace about the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and other matters, the GNP has now gone so far as to meddle in prosecutors’ investigation of the illegal protest by Kim. GNP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo posted on his Twitter page a message calling for the prosecution’s reconsideration of its request for an arrest warrant for Kim, adding that he hopes the court will take into account the spirit of compromise struck between Hanjin Heavy Industries’ labor and management.
Another GNP lawmaker, Lee Jae-oh, a close aide to President Lee Myung-bak, put a similar message on his Twitter page: “If Kim does not run the risk of escape or destroying evidence, it would be better to give her time to recover from fatigue from her long protest and then arrest her.”
The two messages from GNP heavyweights amounts to an explicit demand that the court dismiss the prosecution’s request for an arrest warrant for Kim, and the court eventually rejected the prosecution’s demand.
The ruling party criticized the prosecution Monday. After it announced it would arrest disseminators of false information about the Korea-U.S. FTA in cyberspace, the GNP issued a statement calling the decision an “out-of-date idea.” When a tsunami of reckless, sensational and crazy rumors about the trade agreement is rearing, the state must put up some barriers.
Strict execution of the law is not always the answer, and public sentiment is a factor. Yet the government should be wary of a more serious crisis down the road if netizens are treated with too much leniency. Otherwise, there could be a total collapse of government authority if citizens push ahead with their own agendas through the newly found power of social networking. It’s not beneficial to anybody if politicians attempt to pressure both the prosecution and the courts. The ruling party, in particular, must stay away from temptations to intervene in judicial processes if it does not want the nickname “cowardly party.”