Accusers must be cautious and accused, be cooperative
Sometimes it’s easier for neutral observers to tell how two conflicting sides are more wrong than they are right. That is how one feels watching the exchange of charges and countercharges between prosecutors and political progressives. It appears it’s a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other.
The prosecution raided the headquarters of the leftist Unified Progressive Party Tuesday, and seized computer servers that contain information on party members and computer programs used in the UPP’s allegedly rigged candidate selection process.
UPP officials denounced the move as ``unprecedented violence that tramples on the basic rights of a political party.” In response, the prosecution vowed to get to the bottom of election irregularities, and punish violence used by some UPP members to block the justified law enforcement. The prosecution was somewhat hasty and went a little too far in the search and seizure. But it was the UPP that prompted such action.
In particular, its pro-North Korean main faction should have no excuse whatsoever for what happened in the leftist party in the past couple of months.
It is suspected of manipulating votes for parliamentary primaries to select lawmakers for proportional representation, was violent toward the non-mainstream party leaders trying to rectify wrongs, and mobilized all means possible to protect two key lawmakers-elect from in-house discipline by falsifying their residence to local chapters in which mainstreamers enjoy a dominant influence. Such ends-justifies-the-means behavior has stripped the progressives of any moral high ground they had left.
The prosecution is not free from blame for acting hastily, as the UPP was about to oust the two lawmakers-elect at the center of the trouble in self-correcting steps.
Again, however, it was the UPP’s foot-dragging and ugly internal strife that invited the external investigation. Voters have the right to know exactly what occurred within the party, and sooner than later, not least because it is the third largest political group that receives a state subsidy of 26 billion won a year from taxpayers.
The prosecution needs to focus its probe on election irregularities and finish it swiftly. It gave the undesirable impression of political oppression in when it confiscated the party members’ list, which a UPP leader described as ``the heart of the party.” The UPP for its part should actively cooperate in the investigation concerning the vote-rigging if for no other purpose than providing no excuses for the probe to spread to the normal and justifiable activities of a political group.
Korea, especially the nation’s underprivileged class, needs a progressive party. What the UPP’s main faction is doing, however, reduces room for their agenda of a more equitable society, while driving even once sympathetic voters into political apathy. It must take a step backward to move two steps forward later. The first step is the resignation of the two lawmakers-elect at the heart of the controversy.
The party must also change itself by openly renouncing Kim Il-sung’s juche (self-reliance) philosophy or by splitting from its followers. Only when the progressive party evolves, so will their conservative counterparts, and vice versa.
Korea’s progressives stand at a crossroads and the choice is wholly theirs.