Indiscreet exposure of privacyA month has passed since the country began two battles - against the outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the fear of the virus infection that has put domestic demand to almost a standstill. Everyone knows by now the cause of the disease and how to avoid it. But governments around the country are worsening things by overreacting. A citizen who was diagnosed with the infection took care of herself according to the protocol. She immediately isolated herself, and after symptoms showed, she was treated in an isolation unit at a hospital. She kept herself away from her family and others.
But the Suwon mayor suddenly posted the identity of the patient and her family on the city website. People began to track her husband and even their child. The mayor of Seongnam City also caused similar uproar by disclosing the name of a nurse who was infected on his SNS page. Although she was in isolation and did no harm to society, the identities and private information of herself and her family were bared to the public without their consent.
Suwon City Mayor Yeom Tae-young and Seongnam City Mayor Lee Jae-myoung used to be members of the main opposition. They share the same political roots with Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who in the middle of the night announced that a doctor, despite being infected, came into contact with more than a thousand people by attending a redevelopment ceremony. Moon Jae-in, head of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, suggested creating a council, among government, ruling and opposition party leaders, and special laws to fight MERS.
The opposition’s willingness and cooperation during a time of national crisis is commendable. But a special committee on MERS is already active in the legislature. A law to prevent and control a communicable disease requires further study and discussions. Political leaders must contain themselves from mixing selfish impulses and political interests during a national crisis.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 23, Page 30
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