PSPD People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
PSPD Newsletter : August - September 2013
- 2013.10.01 (11:45:26)
PSPD English Newsletter : August - September 2013
<Greetings from PSPD>
Hello, readers! Greetings from Lee Tae-ho, secretary-general of PSPD
Long and hot summer has given its way to autumn. When PSPD employees come back from summer holidays and airs start to get chill in mornings and evenings, the PSPD got busy for birthday party preparation. 10 September was the anniversary of PSPD foundation. Members and citizens are invited to a birthday party and supporter’s evening every year.
I was fined on 22 August. The Seoul Central District Court fined announced fine of 2.5 million won for participating in two rallies in November and December 2011 opposing the National Assembly to ratify KORUS FTA. The court stated that one broke the law which prohibits rallies within 100 meters from the National Assembly fence and the other in December was an illegal march held in downtown. Politically advanced nations such as US, Canada and Germany do not even have fences around parliaments and furthermore demonstrating in front yards are accepted as a natural way of appeal. It does not make sense why demonstrations and rallies are prohibited in front of the hall of people’s will; that is National Assembly while allowed in front of city halls, city councils and government complex. Despite of the Court’s decision, I am planning to question constitutionality of a clause on this restriction to the Constitutional Court. Appeal to the Supreme Court has been already made against the first decision. On the other hand, PSPD and civil organizations are collecting signatures from citizens since last July for demanding the National Assembly to open its grounds to the people. This petition will be submitted to a regular assembly session.
* People are demonstrating in front of federal parliament in Ottawa, Canada. Canada allows demonstration anytime in front grass of parliament if reported in advance. UK and Tokyo Japan do not prohibit rallies near parliaments. Even Germany and US ban rallies in front but still allow nearby parliaments by specifying exceptions.
Candle rallies urging to find the truth of intervention of NIS in the presidential election have headed to the peak in last August and PSPD has been standing in the middle. Pressures of candle rallies resumed National Assembly Investigation in August which was taking holidays since July. However, the President Park Geun-hye, and the ruling and leading party Saenuri broadly persisted uncooperative stance and major witnesses refused to take an oath for the first time ever. Nevertheless, it did not end as a meaningless event. Most people could see who were destructing efforts to find the truth by witnessing brazen-faced ruling party and witnesses and that accelerated candle rallies. Above all, people have clearly realized why the process of finding the truth should continue without breaks. Therefore, PSPD and civil organizations started to collect signatures of the people for urging to appoint independent special prosecutors to take over the process. Candle rallies will go on weekends in September.
* Collecting signatures urging to carry out independent special prosecutor investigation for NIS scandal at the Gwanghwamun square on 26 August.
The government announced a tax reform plan on 9 August which levies more taxes on top 30% wage income earners by converting income deduction to tax deduction. As negative responses rose from the public, just four days later it hastily introduced a new plan to increase the limit on tax deduction so that fewer taxpayers are affected. The president Park Geun-hye ordered to reconsider the plan as like she previously had no knowledge of it and said to withdraw the plan which burden the ordinary middle class and restart from the beginning. The Tax Reform Center of PSPD has acknowledged that negative feedbacks are incurred from antinomic stance of the government. While complaining for insufficient finances, the government seems to have no intention to impose taxes on real estates of the wealthy and reinforce corporate taxes, but reversely try to ease property taxes. If tax rates and tax shares are fairly borne by every taxpayers accordingly to ‘fair taxation principle’ which to impose taxes where incomes are, and at the same time welfare is expanded consistently and faithfully, social consensus will be formed even for a policy to increase a tax rate for relatively high income salary men. PSPD will prepare comprehensive tax reform measures considering fair taxation and a way to find resources to manage welfare system and submit it to a regular assembly session.
PSPD is actively fighting together with ‘Eul’s against ‘Gaab’s. Please check it out [We stand by ‘Eul’s against ‘Gaab’s] http://www.peoplepower21.org/1033404 (Korean only) to see PSPD activities for ‘Eul’s.
<Socio-Economic Rights related Activities>
Park Geun-hye spoke out expanding welfare but in fact curtailed poverty reduction policies
2013 Committee for Security of People’s Living
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1068875 - Korean only)
Park Geun-hye government has announced to raise minimum living cost standard by 5.5% and praised it to be the third high increase rate in history. According to a research conducted by PSPD and civil organizations, it has been measured only four times up to 2013 (inclusive) since the first measurement in 1999. In other words, it is actually the second lowest increase. Moreover, minimum living cost standard was at the level of 40.7% of average urban labor income when first introduced in 1999 but it dropped down to 32.5% in 2013 further widening relative income gap.
The National Basic Living Security Act enacted in 1999 states that securing basic living is the right of the people and the obligation of the state. It was regulated to secure the right of the poor to receive deficiency from the state if house income is lower than minimum living standard. However, Park Geun-hye government is trying to destroy the basic framework of the Act by discarding minimum living cost standard principle and replacing it with a notion of providing minimum security. Even worse, it also said minimum living cost aid will be included in welfare payment only up to September 2014. It means the government will decide minimum living cost and ignore the state’s obligation specified and practiced by the law to secure the people living in poverty below the minimum standard. It is obviously downgrading basic living security from the right of the recipients of minimum standard to a dispensational measure. Consequently, welfare payment for absolute poverty will be inconsistent depending on a size of government budget.
For that reason, civil and labor organizations, and recipients established 2013 Committee for Security of People’s Living in order to reflect recipients’ opinions when deciding minimum living standard and to stop Park Geun-hye government to deteriorate the Basic Security Act and its principle. On weekends during hot and humid summer of July and August, the Committee has visited people living on a rented small room and lease apartments to organize ‘1000 committee members of recipients’. On 22 August, the committee held a forum to present results of analyzing account books of recipients and to prepare proper measures for basic living cost system. The research studied and analyzed detailed expenditure of 22 recipient households and found out that the 2013 minimum living cost announced by the government is absurdly unrealistic. Hence, the committee strongly denounced the government’s decision on 2013 minimum living cost and its intention to abolish it. On the next day, ‘One day fete for recipients’ was held having various events including markets, consultations (Basic Security Act/Health/Bankruptcy), ‘Commonwealth of all recipients’ and ‘Party for recipients union’. Recipients and related organizations will keep holding activities to stop destroying the Basic Security Act and resolve poverty.
<Peace and Disarmament>
Where did my 34,900 KRW go?
‘Finding 34,900 KRW’ ODA transparency campaign
(for further information, please visit www.peoplepower21.org/1063678 - Korean only)
ODA transparency not only satisfies the right to knowledge of donor state’s people as a tax payer but also helps recipients to efficiently allocate aid resources and develop to get optimum results. Therefore, disclosing ODA information is fairly important to the people of recipient states. “12 windows were supposed to be installed but only 8 were completed. If information was not disclosed, we wouldn’t have known this.” As one Kenyan resident said, information must be disclosed to watch if ODA is used as planned.
One of the international efforts for ODA transparency is the establishment of International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). 165 nations and international organizations including American and European donors such as US, UK and Switzerland and as well as UN agencies, World Bank, the International Foundation for Civil Society are participating in voluntary disclosure of ODA information following common standards set by IATI. Then, how about Korea? It hasn’t joined in yet.
Hence, four civil organizations including PSPD initiated ‘Finding 34,900 KRW’ ODA transparency campaign requesting the government to transparently open ODA related information. The 100 days-campaign has started on 9 July and will go on till 17 October in which citizens as a taxpayer are urging the government to join in IATI.
Followings are how to take part in the campaign
① Sign in online petition at the ODA transparency campaign official site http://goodaidinfo.tumblr.com to urge Korean Government to join
② Take a photo of your urging message and upload it
③ Come and join in street campaign