Sickening politicsSociety is panic-stricken about the rapid spread of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) that has already claimed two lives and infected 25 in just two weeks. While the rest of Korea is entirely glued to the news, it has been business-as-usual for the world of politics - fighting and wrangling over issues that affect the interests of politicians rather than those of the people. With rumors going wild about the outbreak, people are staying away from crowded places and hospitals. Parents are preventing children from going to school and day care.
Even as the people’s fears are becoming near-phobic and the government is scrambling with an unprecedented epidemic, politicians are leisurely going on with their fights over a recently passed legislative bill to empower the National Assembly to demand moderations in presidential and administrative ordinances.
It is distressing - and despairing - that we have to put our lives in the hands of such an irresponsible and selfish group.
After President Park Geun-hye vetoed the bill, lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party demanded floor-leader Yoo Seong-min step down for making such a controversial compromise with the main opposition in passing the government employees’ pension reform outline. They pressed Yoo to resign for making a behind-the-scenes pact that has the potential of overriding the Constitution and interfering with the authority of the president and administration. The presidential office, already enraged with the ruling party, dismissed the talk.
The president and ruling party could sometimes clash. But it does not look well for the presidential office to condone public attacks by members against the party’s leadership. The showdown all looks like a power struggle, between Park-loyalists and the rest, ahead of next year’s generation election.
The main opposition is equally pitiful. Its overnight workshop to assess the party’s weaknesses was dominated with outbursts and criticism against the government and ruling party. They paid little attention to the MERS outbreak. They just used it as another weapon to attack the government. The controversy of the legislative law should be addressed with cool heads, under legal procedures and regulations. Meanwhile, the government and politicians should focus on the more urgent affair of containing the virus outbreak.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 3, Page 30