Ending the vicious cycleKorean society is heading into a vortex of chaos once again in the aftermath of the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry. The opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy has kicked off its signature outdoor rally after its demands on the special Sewol law were not met. Having reneged twice on its earlier agreements, the opposition has put all the blame on President Park Geun-hye and the ruling Saenuri Party. The outdoor strife has even forced the legislature to cancel its annual audit of the government.
Korea has been marred by a vicious cycle in which a large-scale incident is politicized by an opposition party, followed by a boycott of the National Assembly and a paralyzed government.
To retain normalcy, other urgent bills must be dealt with while attempting to resolve the incident according to democratic rules. Only then can the nation move on. Park Young-sun, floor leader of the opposition, insisted that the special Sewol law aimed at investigating the ferry disaster is the most important law relating to people’s livelihoods. That is wrong. A special bill to resolve the maritime calamity is not comparable to economic bills with far-reaching effects.
On Sept. 11, 2001 about 3,000 people were killed in New York. In Japan, tens of thousands of residents around the Fukushima nuclear reactors had to leave their homes. They must have felt shock as strong as in the Sewol disaster. Yet no hunger strike or sit-in protest took place. The two countries marched forward while addressing their unprecedented crises.
The Sewol tragedy resulted from people’s disrespect for the law. It is insane for the opposition to resolve it by ignoring the legislature. The opposition’s assertion that victims’ families must also have investigative and prosecutorial rights and participate in legislation is incomprehensible. Their campaign to shift all responsibility to the president and paralyze the Assembly goes against the law.
Ministers in charge of the economy and social issues have pleaded for the opposition’s cooperation in passing livelihood-related bills to usher in economic recovery. People cannot trust the government if its proposed bills are stuck in the legislature. If the economy sinks just like the Sewol ferry, who will take responsibility? Will the opposition, which is held hostage by the victims’ families, feed the people?
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 27, Page 34