This Month at PSPD, April 2023
Unequal COVID-19, Unequal Recovery
PSPD, the Korean Federation of Medical Activist Groups for Health Rights, and the Public Health Alliance came together to hold a panel discussion on the challenges we continue to face in our journey toward full recovery from the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the unpredictability of future waves of the virus, no one can guarantee that there won’t be a second or third wave. It is therefore crucial to establish systems such as national employment insurance and national income insurance to provide easier support for the lives of low-income households that are particularly vulnerable to unpredictable changes in employment and income status. We also need to establish a robust social welfare system that can respond flexibly, even in times of disruptions in essential social services. In addition, it is imperative to establish a unified and efficient government system for public medical facilities to address inequalities in access to health care.
What needs to change in the tax laws in 2023
The livelihood of low-income households has become precarious as prices and interest rates rise. However, the Yoon Suk-Yeol government is aggressively pushing plans for tax cuts for conglomerates and the rich, which contrasts with the approach of many other nations that are proposing financial and welfare expansions during this complex global economic crisis. In response, the PSPD Center for Tax Reform has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Economy and Finance entitled “Opinions on the 2023 Tax Law Revision Plan,” which includes measures such as △ abolishing tax cuts for the rich △ increasing the tax rate for the upper corporate tax brackets △ introducing windfall profit taxes △ strengthening the real state tax system △ enhancing financial asset-related taxes for fair taxation, and △ revising inheritance taxes to prevent wealth concentration.
136 former prosecutors in the Yoon Suk-yeol government!
In March of this year, the PSPD released a list of former prosecutors who are currently employed in the Ministry of Justice or government ministries. The list shows that there are 41 prosecutors employed by the Ministry of Justice, 52 prosecutors dispatched to various agencies, and 15 prosecutors employed in the Ministry of Justice or assigned to other organizations. Prosecutors hold significant power in investigating and pressing criminal charges. However, these former prosecutors now occupy key positions in government administrations through dispatch or reappointment after resignation. The appointments heavily favor the prosecution, posing a fundamental threat to the checks and balances among government agencies. Furthermore, there are legitimate concerns that this narrow focus on prosecutors will have detrimental effects on diversity and expertise in policymaking. PSPD is committed to monitoring the Yoon Suk-yeol government’s appointments that are heavily concentrated on the prosecution and its attempts to consolidate control within its inner circle. We will continue our efforts to ensure checks and balances in this era of a “prosecutor’s heyday”.
Call for Government Actions on Rental Scams
In February of this year, a victim of a rental scam in Incheon’s Michuhol district died by suicide. In response to this tragic news, on the evening of March 8th, over 100 people gathered for a silent march from Seoul Station to the Presidential Office in Yongsan, demanding that the government take swift action to provide relief to the victims. Participants accused the government, local authorities, and financial institutions of negligent management over lease registration and reckless ‘Jeonse’-loaning and guarantee and strongly demanded their action.
The 3.11 Peace March in the Midst of the Korean Peninsula Crisis
In February and March, a large-scale joint military exercise between the US and South Korea took place, while North Korea continued its high-level military exercises. The escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula prompted us to organize the 3.11 Peace March in cooperation with people to promote dialogue and pursue peace. We also conducted on-site peace activities on March 29th to oppose the aggressive joint U.S.-South Korea landing exercise held in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do from March 20 to April 3.
We strongly condemn Yoon Seok-yeol’s hasty solution of “forced mobilization” and the diplomatic disaster of the Korea-Japan Summit.
Yoon’s government announced a plan for the victims of forced mobilization during the Japanese colonial period ahead of the Korea-Japan summit. However, we believe that this plan not only insults the dignity of the victims but also disregards judicial sovereignty, treating human rights issues as mere financial debts that can be settled. The Korea-Japan summit left a dismal outcome that goes against freedom, human rights, the rule of law, and peace. We joined in various activities to condemn the ‘subservient’ diplomacy of the Yun Suk-yeol government and demand an apology and compensation from Japan.
The Stockholders’ General Meeting’s Core Issue Is Improving Corporate Governance
In March, we organized a panel discussion titled “What Needs to Change for the 2023 Shareholders’ Meeting?” in collaboration with labor and civil society organizations. During this forum, we analyzed issues related to target companies and emphasized the role of pension funds in bringing about necessary changes. The board of directors at KT has allowed various illegal and unreasonable management practices to persist by failing to prevent or control repeated CEO risks over the years. The key to reforming KT’s governance structure lies in altering the current system where directors are appointed through self-recommendation and internal collusion within the board of directors. While there have been criticisms that the recent stewardship code of the National Pension Service is being utilized as a new government tool, we highlighted that the active implementation of the stewardship code by the National Pension Service, as a shareholder of investment companies, is a crucial task aimed at promoting the long-term value of investment companies and ensuring transparent management.
The world’s first AI bill could become a global concern
As the global interest in AI technology grows, concerns regarding its impact have also been on the rise, especially with the increasing popularity of ChatGPT. In February, several AI-related bills were merged and passed by the Science, ICT, Broadcasting, and Communications Committee. These bills are commonly referred to as the “Basic Plan” for AI regulation. However, it is worth noting that these bills lack provisions to regulate the risks posed by AI in terms of security and human rights. In fact, there is a significant risk that the principle of “pre-approval and post-regulation” could hinder legitimate regulatory efforts. Human rights civil society organizations, including PSPD, held a press conference to articulate their opposition to the AI bill and demand a thorough reassessment of its contents.
Translated by a PSPD Volunteer
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