President faces backlash after signing petition

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President faces backlash after signing petition

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Executives of Samsung Group affiliates including Samsung C&T President Choi Chi-hoon, left, sign the petition at Samsung Electronics headquarters in Seocho District, southern Seoul, on Wednesday. Local business lobbying groups such as the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Federation of Korean Industries started the signature campaign to impose pressure on the National Assembly to pass a series of economic and labor reform bills. [NEWSIS]

President Park Geun-hye has faced backlash since signing a petition Monday that pressures the National Assembly to pass economic and labor reform bills meant to revitalize the local economy.

In the three days since she inked her support for the business lobby-led petition in Pangyo, Gyeonggi, over 100,000 employees at conglomerates followed suit both online and offline. The campaign aims to gather 10 million signatures, or about a fifth of the country’s population.

Tens of presidents and CEOs of Samsung affiliates made a scene Wednesday morning as they queued up to offer their signatures at a booth installed by the Federation of Korean Industries in the lobby of Samsung Electronics’ headquarters in Seocho District, southern Seoul.

LG and CJ followed suit on Thursday and other leading conglomerates are considering joining as well.

From the bureaucrat side, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn released a photo of his online signature on the petition Tuesday, and Yoo Il-ho, deputy prime minister and minister of strategy and finance, did the same later in the day.

The move has mobilized both conglomerates and bureaucrats, as both groups know failure to follow the president’s call typically leads to stigma and potential disadvantages in business or politics.

Rep. Moon Jae-in, leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party, dubbed the president’s move a “demagoguery” on Wednesday, arguing that the petition was actually run by the government and was being used to twist the arm of the business community.

“We have no choice but to be reminiscent of the state-led demonstrations that were often found under the Park Chung Hee and Syngman Rhee administrations,” he said.

Rep. Lee Jong-kul, a lawmaker with the Minjoo Party, on Thursday went so far as to urge the National Election Commission to launch an investigation into whether President Park has violated election laws or not.

He contends her joining of the petition is “effectively an election campaign that begs support for the ruling Saenuri Party.”

“The paper President Park left her autograph on is tantamount to a ballot without the names of political parties,” he said at a policy meeting at the National Assembly.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]





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