Bunch of bulliesThe ruling Democratic Party (DP) has railroaded a number of bills, including the controversial act in regards to the Corruption Investigation Office (CIO) for High-ranking Officials, through the National Assembly thanks to its supermajority. But the public shows a cold reaction to the move. The DP set the foundation for the establishment of a special law enforcement agency and pressed ahead with other bills aimed at punishing historical distortions of the May 18, 1980 Gwangju democracy movement and narrowing the scope of activities of the National Intelligence Service. However, a recent Realmeter poll points to a public being less than impressed. 54.2 percent of respondents found fault with the DP’s pushing of the CIO Act while 39.6 percent supported it. President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating fell to 36.7 percent, the lowest ever.
We think this is an acknowledgement that the DP is critically damaging the spirit of democracy and using its overwhelming majority to do so. It forced the opposition People Power Party (PPP) to helplessly stop a filibuster to pass the contentious bills. In the beginning, DP floor leader Kim Tae-nyeon allowed the opposition’s filibuster, but soon reversed his position. Kim called it a “limitless waste of national energy.” The DP decided to stop the filibuster after Rep. Yoon Hee-suk, a lawmaker from the PPP, attracted public attention with a convincing 12-hour and 47-minute speech on the podium.
Concerns about a law banning the dispatch of propaganda leaflets across the border and another punishing different interpretations of the democracy movement are deepening because of their infringement on freedom of speech. Rep. Chris Smith, a U.S. Republican serving as co-chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, criticized the DP for committing an “apparent violation of South Korea’s constitution and the nation’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
Choi Jin-Seok, an emeritus professor at Sogang University — who witnessed the democracy uprisings and the government’s brutal crackdown in Gwangju when he was 21 years old — criticized the DP for trying to split the people into friends and foes. If someone maliciously distorts or fabricates the movement, they must serve a jail term up to seven years.
The DP must ponder the repercussions of the passage of the laws. We hope it does not abuse its comfortable majority every time it wants to. The party must remember what its former head said after a landslide victory in the April 15 parliamentary elections. “I regret the aggressive ways we pushed things until we lost power in 2007,” he said.