PSPD English Newsletter, April 2015
- 2015.06.30 (10:06:50)
Tongin Newsletter, April 2015
<The report from Park Geun-yong, Deputy secretary-general of the PSPD>
● Sewol Ferry disaster
▶ It’s been more than a year since Sewol Ferry sank. However, nine passengers are still missing and haven’t come back. The Sewol Ferry is still remained in the sea. There is a demand for shift and complete salvage of the ship but the government keeps ignoring. I have participated in a press conference held on 17 March in front of the Cheongwadae urging Sewol Ferry salvage. I also tried to help by holding one-person demonstration on 21 March concentrated on weekends and collecting signatures for a petition.
▶ A memorial is planned at Paengmok port in Jindo on 15 April. People’s memorial culture event will be held at the Seoul Square at night on 16 April and the People’s council for the Sewol Ferry Disaster is preparing a rally on 18 April. PSPD will sincerely and actively take part in all these events.
▶ As a result of efforts of special bill enactment activities last year, the Special Investigation Committee for Sewol Ferry Disaster was made but formal sailing has been delayed because the government has been uncooperative and committee members elected by the leading party’s recommendation have been picking up faults. PSPD is helping to make this committee back in track.
● Political reform including lawmaker election system
▶ General meeting of the National Assembly passed a resolution on 3 March to form a ‘Special committee for Political reform’ which would prepare for a revised election system from a current electing 246 regional and 54 proportional representations till the end of August. PSPD in cooperation with Korea Women’s Association United, YMCA Korea and Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice presented a statement on 3 March proposing to increase proportional representations and reform the committee for delimiting constituency.
● Published a report on prosecutors for the second year of Park Geun-hye government
▶ A report recorded a state of prosecutors for the second year of Park Geun-hye government was published on 16 March. The report presented last year which accessed prosecutors during the first year of Park government was called <Prosecutors failed to reborn for the people>. This year’s is named <Political prosecutors falling into a swamp of abnormality>
● NIS intervened in the presidential election and abused its authorities
▶ The NIS has intervened in prosecutors’ investigation over a former president Noh during Lee Myung-bak administration. Now, its intervention became a hot issue again because of the press interview of Lee In-gyu, a former head of Central Investigation Department. Hence, PSPD reported the NIS on 10 March for executing an investigation outside duties and abusing its authorities for distributing allegations.
▶ You would remember that the NIS and the secretary office of the Cheongwadae illegally investigated Chae Dong-wook, a former head of prosecutors on his behind in order to take him down from his position in 2013. For the charge of illegal collection of private information, PSPD filed a complaint against Gwak Sang-do, a former chief secretary to the president for civil affairs and a secretary for employment and welfare. However, not only the complaint but also the appeal was rejected by prosecutors on 12 March. On the other hands, NIS employees and an officer of Songpa provincial office have been indicted. All these show that core members of the Chengwadae are untouchables recording another case of prosecutors’ tail-cutting investigation.
● Public Pensions
▶ Distinguished from various private pension products, the National Pension Scheme is a public pension and its main objective is to secure livelihood of old age. As a major member for the ‘People’s action to straighten up the National Pension’, PSPD decided to change the name to ‘People’s Action to enhance Public Pensions’ after having discussions with Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions so that activities would expand to include other public pensions such as for public servants. Revised People’s Action which started on 11 March would work against the government which tries to ease its responsibilities for securing elderly livelihood of the people by expanding the private pension market. (see page 49 of Tongin News for details)
● Labor human rights of flight attendants
▶ Thanks to the incident of ‘Macadamia nuts return’ incurred by Jo Hyun-ah a vice president of KAL, infringement of labor human rights of flight attendants became known to the public. It gave a lesson not only to stop violence of Chaebol owners but also to improve labor human rights. PSPD held a forum <Talking about human rights of flight attendants> together with some lawmakers on 19 March to review unfair labor environment
● US-Korea key resolve – eagle drill
▶ PSPD and anti-war peace organizations held a joint press conference <Stop US-Korea key resolve – eagle drill and resume talks of south-North, North-US and six parties> on 2 March in front of the US Embassy in Seoul. It pointed out that the drill began on 2 March would not help easing military tension in the Korean Peninsula and must be reduced to a minimum defense drills.
● THADD, high-end missile defense system
▶ Disputes among US, China and the Korean government are getting worse regarding deployment of THADD in Korea. The US command in Korea said on 12 March that research was conducted to find a location for deployment. Therefore, PSPD held a press conference on 19 March to criticize this together with civil organizations active in candidate locations such as Pyeongtaek, Wonju and Busan, and insisted that the deployment in Korea would accelerate arms race among neighboring nations of Korean peninsula.
● Wolsung nuclear plant no. 1 must shut down
▶ While having two members stepped out, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission forcibly decided on 27 February to extend the life of Wolsung nuclear plant no. 1 in Kyongju city. PSPD joined in an urgent press conference denouncing the decision since it was made without guaranteeing the safety issues.
▶ Having the 4th year since Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan, ‘Joint Action for nuclear-free society’ in which PSPD is a member held a nuclear-free cultural event at Shinchon in Seoul on 14 March. PSPD organized an event ‘Draw something you want instead of nuclear weapons’ and gained great responses from citizens.
● Lippert, US Ambassador to Korea was attacked
▶ A citizen attacked Lippert, US Ambassador to South Korea on 5 March shouting out ‘Stop the war drills’. Regarding this incident, PSPD presented an opinion that any kind of violence can’t be justified but this should not become a reason to weaken anti-war peace movement and be misused for political purposes.