Oblivious to campaign safetyAn activist working for minor opposition People’s Party presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo and a driver of a chartered bus for his campaign died of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the National Forensic Service. The windows were kept shut due to the cold weather despite the need to let fresh air in while running a generator inside to keep the LED display on for Ahn’s campaign.
Due to negligence in safety rule supervision as well as negligence of duty, the incident could fall in the category of a new act which penalizes the employer for liability in industrial accidents. It also turned out that the bus had not been registered for a structural change for equipment installation before using the LED display. If the bus had received approval for the structural change, the accident could have been avoided.
That’s not all. A campaign vehicle in Busan for ruling Democratic Party (DP) candidate Lee Jae-myung overturned and injured two people onboard. The stage set up on the back of the truck, which was installed too high, hit the entry of an underway tunnel and tipped the vehicle over. Campaign buses of other presidential candidates also are presumed to be in operation without safety compliance and lacking legal authorization.
Over 600 vehicles are being mobilized for the official 22-day campaign race. It costs about 30 million won ($25,000) to charter and maintain a 1.5-ton truck. The total cost would amount to 20 billion won, mostly coming from tax funds. The government subsidizes campaign funding for candidates who received at least 15 percent of the votes. The two mainstream parties — the DP and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) — use the funding to run a fleet of campaign vehicles in each of the 243 electoral districts across the country. People in the neighborhoods must endure the loudspeakers throughout the campaign period.
The campaign race is being held while daily Covid-19 counts have topped 100,000. The daily tally is expected to hit 300,000 by early next month before the election day on March 9. Outdoor campaign rallies through vehicles can aggravate the situation as they cannot strictly abide by quarantine rules. PPP candidate Yoon Suk-yeol once irked the public by rallying without wearing a face mask.
Candidates must re-examine safety protocol and comply with the regulations. Outdoor rallies must change in line with digitalization of our society, too. The candidates must agree to expanding digital platforms for their campaigning and reduce their outdoor rallies.