UPP disrespects democracy

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UPP disrespects democracy

The progressive forces challenging and hoping to overturn the government system habitually use both legitimate and illegitimate means for their purposes. Still, the behavior of the Unified Progressive Party - after its key member, lawmaker Lee Seok-ki, had been sentenced to 12 years in jail for plotting a rebellion to overthrow the government to help North Korea - is beyond comprehension.

About 200 party members, including lawmakers, rushed to the Blue House and rallied against the ruling. In a press conference, Lee Jung-hee, chairwoman of the UPP, accused the court of handing down the ruling for political purposes to destroy her party. “The ruling had been plotted and ordered by the Park Geun-hye government. The dictatorial era that covered our eyes and ears has come back,” she said.

Lee and her leftist party, however, are underestimating the intelligence of the Korean public and denying the constitutional independence of the judiciary. The party has lost the support and sympathy from even its peers in the opposition. The main opposition Democratic Party, which struck a political alliance with the UPP during the 2012 general election, said the court made its best judgment based on illegalities that violated common sense. The new party led by independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo also said the UPP must take responsibility for actions that threatened the Constitution and democracy.

The case - the first involving treason under the democratic system - was closely watched by the public and media because of its ideological and political sensitivity. Lee’s defense had been built strongly by a team of 21 lawyers that included the husband of the UPP’s chairwoman. The court opened 46 times for a total of 98 days, even longer than the 1995 trial of former President Chun Doo Hwan for a military coup and oppression, reflecting the discretion and importance of the court decision. Even Lee in his final testimony on Feb. 3 thanked the bench for a fair trial.

The progressive party has been championing freedom and democracy. But it is paradoxical that it denies and criticizes the judiciary because it does not agree with its verdict.

What kind of democracy is that?

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 19, Page 30

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