A legislative rampageThe ruling Democratic Party’s trampling on the fundamental values of our democracy is getting out of control. Its rush to pass an unprecedented draconian revision to the Media Arbitration Act has been delayed for a month after facing vehement resistance at home and even from abroad, but the party refused to scrap the bill. In the meantime, the railroading through of other highly contentious bills based on the party’s super-majority rings loud alarms.
A case in point is a revised medical bill that enforces the installation of CCTVs in operating theaters in hospitals. The bill has sparked an avalanche of criticism about its apparent equation of medical professionals with potential criminals. There is no country that compels such installations. The Korean Medical Association, a lobbying group for doctors, threatened to file a suit with the Constitutional Court. Yet, the ruling party passed the revision in a Legislative and Judiciary Committee meeting after holding just one public hearing.
A revision to the Private School Act is another case. The revised bill passed by the Democratic Party (DP) allows an education superintendent to conduct a written test for would-be teachers and intervene in personnel affairs of private schools after finding corruption in appointments. An association representing elementary, middle and high schools in Korea is also preparing to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court. The DP does not care.
The DP’s bill to promote carbon neutrality is full of problems. The bill raises the gas emissions reduction target for 2030, set by the Ministry of Environment, by five percent in the face of strong opposition from the corporate sector. The DP passed the bill through the National Assembly after approving it in a committee meeting early Sunday morning.
The DP’s relentless push reminds us of the rubber stamping of military governments in our past. That constitutes a clear violation of the current Constitution, which democracy activists fought authoritarian government 34 years ago to achieve. The DP’s crusade to punish the press for printing what it considers “fake news” could be considered the climax of its attempt to destroy the basic spirit of our Constitution.
The DP’s legislative frenzy reflects its obsession with passing all the bills it wants to before the Moon administration ends next May. But history shows what price the proponents of such bills could pay. The DP even had to withdraw a controversial bill aimed at disallowing citizens from attacking the sacrosanct cause of protecting former sex slaves even when civic groups are suspected of corruption. The DP must humbly accept its mistakes. Otherwise, it will perish — sooner than it can imagine.