[EDITORIAL] Pitfalls in Political Retaliation Bill

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[EDITORIAL] Pitfalls in Political Retaliation Bill

The Grand National Party is planning to introduce a law to prevent political vendettas. In the past, whenever power changed, the term "political retaliation" resurged, and it is understandable that the opposition party wants such a law. But it is dubious whether the problem can be solved by a law. The Grand National Party's draft is inclusive when it comes to the range of political vendettas: investigations, financial sanctions and tax audits targeting the opposition after a change of power. It also includes discrimination in personnel employment and the exercise of financial sanctions against those who are from certain regions or those who made political contributions to the opposition party. The draft stipulates the installation of an apolitical, neutral and objective committee to determine which actions constitute political retaliation, and have the power to halt abusive investigations.

Even after a careful examination of the draft, it is not easy to grasp the concept of what will be interpreted as political reprisals. Even if the committee is supposed to rule on the cases, the judgment itself will be no easy matter because of murky concepts. True law-breaking could be lumped together with political revenge. Also, the installation of the committee is likely to be unconstitutional. Limitations are expected in applying the law, and the actual effect of the law is questionable as well. In the end, it is likely that the law will degenerate into a symbolic, declaratory gesture.

Yet the Grand National Party is intent on this law because it views the current government's series of investigations into the opposition as political vendettas, from a shootout scheme at the truce village of Panmunjom, to tax evasions and to the spy agency's diversion of funds. Also, it appears that the Grand National Party has a political motive: the improvement of the personal image of Lee Hoi-chang, its president, for the next presidential election. During the last presidential election, President Kim Dae-jung pledged to legislate the same law. The turned tables only underline the backwardness of Korean politics. That is why even some Grand National Party members say that what is more important than legislation is the will of the ruler. The opposition is advised to carefully look into possible problems surrounding such a law.

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