Power corrupts

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Power corrupts

 Keum Tae-sup, a former lawmaker from the Democratic Party (DP), left the ruling party on Wednesday. In a letter of resignation, the prosecutor-turned-politician said he was leaving the party out of utter despair about its double standards and tendency to divide the public into friends and foes. Four months ago, he called for a review of the DP’s censure of him after he abstained from voting along the party line for a controversial bill to establish a special law enforcement agency to investigate corruption among high officials, including prosecutors and judges. But the DP has not made any decision on his appeal. After Keum left the party, many people applauded his decision, saying the ruling party will never change.

After President Moon Jae-in’s administration launched three years ago, DP supporters encouraged Moon to “do whatever you want.” But now, such remarks are coming from supporters of the opposition — sarcastically. That reflects the public’s unease over the DP’s arrogance and domineering governance style, particularly after its landslide victory in the April 15 parliamentary elections.

The new National Assembly was ruptured from the start after the DP took all chairmanships of the 17 standing committees in the legislature. That’s not all. Whenever the government and ruling party faced a crisis — over, say, abuse of power involving Rep. Yoon Mee-hyang and Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, the real estate policy debacle and a trade dispute between Korea and Japan — they tried to blame what they called “past evils.” Talk about passing the buck!

If the DP is really a democratic party, it should have corrected its anachronistic way of thinking. But the party tried to silence a minority view, which led to Keum’s departure. The party constitution supports diverse opinions to uphold the values of democracy. And yet, the DP took punitive action against Keum simply because he expressed a different view. Under such circumstances, who would express an honest opinion?

Voters gave the DP a landslide to help the government weather the Covid-19 crisis and move toward national integration instead of railroading bills through the Assembly or dividing the public into allies and enemies. But the ruling party’s overbearing attitude does not show any sign of change.

That does not match the spirit of the candlelight vigils that helped the DP take power. Political dominance invites a retreat of democracy, which no one should favor. The DP can lose everything if it fails to control its desire for dominance. It must wonder why an increasing number of netizens are attacking it for having morphed into a dictatorship.

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