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Stop inciting the rally

Feb 06,2017
The opposition Democratic Party’s former leader, Moon Jae-in, and splinter opposition People’s Party’s former head, Ahn Cheol-soo, last year were unable to jump on the stage at the massive candlelight vigils across the country calling for President Park Geun-hye’s step-down over the Choi Soon-sil scandal. At a rally in Gwangju, Moon had to settle with an interview with one of the organizers of the demonstration due to their rejection of politicians for damaging the purity of their protests. Ahn also experienced such cold treatment from citizens on the spot.

The protesters’ antipathy toward the political establishment mostly stems from their desire to uphold the integrity of their rallies.

Nevertheless, presidential hopefuls of the ruling Saenuri Party — including former Gyeonggi Gov. Kim Moon-soo and six-term lawmaker Rhee In-je — appeared on the scene of last weekend’s rally, led by conservative groups protesting the presidential impeachment. Saenuri leaders joined their chorus of opposing the impeachment and stopping the independent counsel’s investigation of the president. Kim even posted a message on his Facebook page denouncing “some fanatical groups in the Gwanghwamun Sqaure” for lambasting President Park.

The leaders must have taken action to raise public support for the upcoming presidential election after noticing conservative voters’ resistance to the impeachment has topped 10 percent. But it is contradictory for them to take such actions after they habitually criticized the opposition’s outdoor rallies for political gains.

In fact, they are responsible for conniving in Park’s abuse of power. Yet they are engrossed in fueling social discord by joining the rallies rather than apologizing for the power abuse, which will only lead to extreme confrontations between liberal and conservative groups.
The Dec. 9 impeachment by the National Assembly was a desperate call for justice. Ruling party lawmakers joining the conservative protests are only throwing cold water on the desired conclusion of the case through the Constitutional Court.

Both sides must help the highest court deliberate on the case. Former Gov. Kim is a well-known labor activist-turned-politician who proclaimed he had defected from the opposition camp to help ease our society’s deep-rooted ideological conflict. Opposition lawmakers, too, must behave wisely. They must stop stoking up the public outrage by blindly riding on their antigovernment protests if they really want to take power next time.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 6, Page 30