Lawmakers to consider petition to impeach Moon

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Lawmakers to consider petition to impeach Moon

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President Moon Jae-in, left, gives a pep talk to a group of graduates-to-be from the Korea Armed Forces Nursing Academy in Daejeon on Monday, who are set to be dispatched to Daegu, where the majority of coronavirus cases in the country are concentrated. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

The National Assembly said Monday lawmakers will formally consider a public petition demanding President Moon Jae-in’s impeachment.

According to the National Assembly Secretariat, a petition was submitted on Friday to the legislature’s online bulletin board, demanding that the National Assembly impeach Moon for his failed response to protect the people’s lives from the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The petition received over 100,000 signatures from the public in just four days and was created by someone surnamed Han.

“The more I see Moon’s response to the latest Wuhan pneumonia crisis, the more I see a president of China, not Korea,” Han wrote, criticizing the administration for the shortage of face masks and its decision to not impose a full entry ban on all travelers from China. “As the president, his top priority should have been protecting the country’s own people. If he had truly cared about the people, he should have imposed an entry ban on travelers from all regions of China.

“While high-quality face masks, hand sanitizer and meal boxes were offered to the Chinese people, our medical teams were given poor meals. Doctors dispatched to Daegu were told that they should find their own accommodations,” Han continued. “He recently said the outbreak will soon come to an end, urging the people to resume economic activities and large-scale events. So what was the outcome? I must do something. President Moon doesn’t deserve to be called Korea’s president. I demand his impeachment.”

According to the National Assembly Secretariat, the petition gathered enough signatures to be considered as a legitimate bill and will be treated equally to a bill proposed by a lawmaker. “It will soon be sent to the concerned standing committee to begin deliberation,” a National Assembly official told Yonhap News Agency Monday. “We haven’t decided whether it will be sent to the Legislation and Judiciary Committee or House Steering Committee.”

Based on Article 123 of the National Assembly Act, the legislature introduced an online petition system in January. A petition that gathers over 100,000 signatures within 30 days of its submission will be considered a bill.

A similar electronic petition system is being operated by the Moon Blue House. A presidential official will reply to a petition that receives over 200,000 signatures in the Blue House system.

A similar petition demanding Moon’s impeachment was already submitted in the Blue House system on Feb. 4, and it received nearly 1.43 million signatures as of Monday afternoon. As the petition was increasingly backed by the public, a rival petition, expressing support for Moon, was submitted on Feb. 26. It received 1.18 million signatures as of Monday afternoon.

Affected by the outbreak, Moon’s approval rating is falling while his disapproval rating is going up.

Realmeter polling company said Monday that 50.7 percent of the people it surveyed said they disapprove of Moon’s performance, up 1.6 percentage points from the previous week. The poll was conducted from Tuesday till Friday last week at the request of YTN.

Moon’s approval rating was 46.1 percent in the fourth week of February, down by 1.3 percentage points from the third week of February, according to the poll. The gap between the approval rating and disapproval rating was 4.6 percentage points, which went up higher than the margin of error for the first time in four weeks.

In Daegu and North Gyeongsang, where infections are skyrocketing day by day, Moon’s approval rating was 30.1 percent, while his disapproval rating was 65 percent. “The coronavirus outbreak will become the most critical factor in the politics in the coming weeks,” Realmeter said.

The poll had a confidence level of 95 percent and a plus or minus 2 percentage-point margin of error. More details are available on the Realmeter homepage.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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