This month at PSPD
This year has almost gone that people has started to plan for year-end gatherings. PSPD is reflecting itself if its functions promised to members and citizens in the beginning of this year have been fulfilled and trying to make it up before 2016 ends. The presidential election is a year ahead. There would be lots of discussions about how a new government should be. What would be the roles of PSPD to have a year of presidential election meaningful? We would like to hear opinions from members and citizens.
Responding to the gate of the President Park and Choi Sun-sil, and Woo Byung-woo scandal
Choi Sun-sil gate started from corruption of Mir and K Sports foundation has been spreading out to the biggest scandal. As soon as corruption allegation was raised, FKI said to dismiss the foundations but PSPD refuted that FKI did not have a legal authority to do so. As JTBC news and other media revealed, Choi had received important documents of the Blue House. Hence, it is more than corruption and scandal of manipulating and monopolizing state affairs that the President Park also has to be investigated. Right after the reveal, PSPD presented its stance that the National Assembly has to take all necessary measures to find the truth and the President has to take a responsibility for lying and destroying national administration system.
PSPD has been watching prosecutors’ investigation on corruption of Woo Byung-woo, senior secretary for civil affairs and his family. Despite of having a special investigation team, the prosecutors concluded it not punishable in the late October. Since PSPD has laid a formal complaint urging to investigate the case in the late August, it denounced the prosecutors for closing the case without seizure to find evidences and sent a statement of reporter on 3 October to the prosecutors demanding proper investigation. The prosecutors decided not punishable because statute of limitation expired. However, PSPD disproved their decision on 10 October that violations of the Act on Special Measures for the Registration of Real Estate and the Punishment of Tax Evader Act committed in the course of reinstating propriety right for the land owned under the borrowed name were not expired, therefore, prosecutable.
Presented 50 problematic projects for 2017 National Budget
PSPD has operated the ‘National Budget Network’ together with other organizations since 2013 in order to improve problems with National Budget allocation. On 20 October, it presented <50 problematic projects for 2017 National Budget> with the Network member organizations at the National Assembly. To take a look at representative projects in the area of vulnerable class and national defense, fund to build new residential buildings for solders and cost for improvement are allotted far above and Fighter Experimental (F-35A) purchase budget has to be abolished while urgent welfare budget for low income household with difficult livelihood are too short. Patriot education and succeeding patriot spirit projects are not truly necessary. PSPD will survey citizens and select the worst budget, and submit them to the National Assembly for deliberation with a request of increase or reduction.
Civil action with humidifier disinfectant victims
Humidifier disinfectant issue hasn’t completed yet. Special Committee of the National Assembly was formed to find complete truth, prepare for damage compensation plan and prevention measures but it closed its activities as of 4 October. It has made a first step to find the truth and prepare for measures but more discussions are required to have prevention and principle measures. In order to urge the National Assembly to put more efforts on the matter, PSPD has requested a meeting with lawmakers, held a press conference in front of the National Assembly and one-person demonstration requesting extension of the Special Committee operation or its reformation.
Published an issue report analyzed ‘Korea Aid’ projects in which Mir Foundation is involved
PSPD has published an issue report < Korea Aid, the Worst ODA > on 17 October. It pointed out that Korea Aid established last May when the President Park Geun-hye visited African nations was one-time event which disregarded objects of ODA and principles set by the International Society to increase effectiveness.
The report has exposed the true face of Korea Aid with an explanation on background of its establishment as follow. △ Projects have been carried out by the Blue House aide behind the curtain such as Mir and K Sports foundation △ Projects are one-time events with no expectations on ODA effectiveness △ The failure is foreseen because projects are hasty made and processed △ ODA fund is simply expanded to unfeasible countries.
Nevertheless, the government plans to expand Korea Aid fund to Cambodia, Tanzania and Laos in 2017. PSPD demands suspension of Korea Aid and requests to remove all related budget of 16,073,000,000 KRW from the national budget 2017.
Won a damage compensation lawsuit against credit card companies for leaking member information
In respect to leakage of personal information of Kukmin, Lotte and Nonghyup credit card members in 2004, PSPD has recruited 102 victims for plaintiff and taken a legal action for damage compensation. The Court sustained the plaintiff at the first trial on 30 September and said to compensation 100,000 KRW per person for psychological damage. It was fortunate decision in a sense that the lawsuit intended to increase responsibility of large corporations regarding the protection of customers’ personal data.
However, the amount is very disappointing and would not be sufficient to alarm companies with piles of personal data and make them to set up strict security policy. In addition, only a few who participated in the lawsuit bearing troublesome procedure can be compensated even though there are a lot more who deserve compensation. This is why class action lawsuit system is required to save many people damaged by the same case and PSPD has been urging lawmakers to legislate Class Action Lawsuit Act.
Protest against forced autopsy of the deceased Beak Nam-ki and operation of ‘Wall of grief and memory’
On 14 November last year, Beak Nam-ki, a farmer who came to Seoul to demand rice price guarantee was hit and fallen down by water canon during the rally. Concerning this incident, PSPD has kept asking an apology of the government and punishment of a police commander. However, Baek passed away on 25 September before these demands were responded hanging in for 317 days in an intensive care unit. PSPD and social organizations have been trying to get an apology of the government, punishment of the responsible and get rid of water cannon. They are protesting together to stop forced autopsy.
There were silent demonstrations holding a large picket on 29 September and 4 October at the National Police Agency and the Seoul Police Administration wherein audit of the National Assembly was going to be held. ‘Wall of grief and memory for Baek Nam-ki’ was set up on 12 October at Bosingak square in Jongno, Seoul about 100 meters away from where he was stroke down. This large wall was installed for the people passing by to write a note of memory and promise and it will be operated till 14 November. Executives and full-time activists of PSPD are planning to visit the funeral whenever possible and joined in ‘Citizen Keepers’ to block forced autopsy from the Police. PSPD held a special candle session in front of the funeral thinking of the deceased Beak together with citizens on 20 October. All executives and full-time activists participated in national rallies on 1 and 22 October. On 25 October the expiry date of autopsy warrant, full-time activists went to the funeral and expressed the mind of citizens holding a picket of ‘No autopsy’. PSPD joined in making a wall of citizens and stopped the police.
Campaign for freedom of right to Assembly and expelling water cannon
‘Places prohibited for Outdoor Assembly and Demonstration’, Article 11 of the Assembly and Demonstration Act prohibits all kinds of assembly and demonstration near the Blue House and the National Assembly, and revising this article is one of PSPD’s projects in 2016. In relation to this, PSPD has studied and presented current status, and held a discussion in June. The campaign of citizens’ petition was carried out to abolish Article 11 of the Assembly and Demonstration Act and expel water cannon from assembly sites in October. It is planning to submit the petition to the National Assembly in November.
On 19 October, PSPD notified the Police to organize project assembly in order to show that even a peaceful and quiet demonstration is prohibited if it is held next to the fence of the National Assembly, fountain square in front of the Blue House or in front of the Supreme Prosecutors Office next door of the Supreme Court. What PSPD planned was to hold <Circling fence of the National Assembly praying for revision of the Election Act>, <Essay contest, the young write to the President> and <Shouting four letter words demanding the reform of prosecutors to the Supreme Prosecutors which is in the center of corruption>. Despite they were supposed to be small and peaceful with 20-30 people using no microphone, the Police sent a letter of prohibition with no doubt to the PSPD secretariat office. Therefore, PSPD will appeal to the Constitutional Court in November and submit the request of revision to the National Assembly so that unfair legislation can be corrected.
Published a report on internet comments deleted by the National Election Commission
PSPD has investigated and published a report on 4 October in regard to deleted internet comments that the National Election Commission had removed election related comments written by citizens from internet sites having the 20th General Election ahead. The analysis shows that Central, Seoul and Incheon Election Commission have deleted more than 4,000 comments from portal sites and SNS which simply cited public poll result, satirized or criticized candidates and raised suspicions on candidates insisting that they were slander or spreading false information. Unfortunately, the current law allows the National Election Commission to do so because the law excessively restricts freedom to expression of voters. In other words, voters would be repeatedly blocked to post their opinions if the law doesn’t get changed. Hence, PSPD will work harder to revise the Election Act including Clause i1, Article 93 which suppresses the voice of voters.