The CAGE Newsletter 1 : 412 Civil Organizations Launched the Civil Action for 2000 General Election
On January 12 this year, 412 Korean domestic civil organizations launched a social campaign called the Civil Action for 2000 General Election (the CAGE) through official declaration at the Press Center in Seoul, South Korea. The declaration titled as Civil Manifesto for Political Reform urges the year 2000 be commencing year of political reform in South Korea. It asserts that “politics in Korea still remains in the time of the past century when the society and the people therein prepare their way into a new century as well as a new millennium. Political corruption in general is the worst obstacle hindering the progress of reform in Korean society, that must no longer be tolerated. We, therefore, urgently demand a clean parliament.”
There will be a general election on April 13 this year, and it is very likely that some of corrupted incumbents will be re-appointed as candidate for their political parties. The majority of Korean voters strongly rejects them as their representatives. These politicians used to behave as if the government is “of the representative, by the representative and for the representative,” forgetting their duty as servants of the people in a democratic society. Thus, the CAGE is the product of the will of civil organizations to involve in the upcoming general election for the purpose of banning corrupted incumbents from their re-entry into politics.
Nevertheless, the Election Law in Korea prohibits any political campaign by civil organizations in concern of election. Even though it is illegal, the civil organizations involved in the CAGE strongly believe that a political reform can be only brought by means of collective civil power for the time being. The CAGE thus also demands that the Election Law be amended to ensure the political right of the people. Civil organizations are also responsible to take action against corrupted politics, because it is their duty to make a political reform progress.
On January 24, the CAGE plans to release the list of politicians who are not qualified to run in the upcoming election. The list is still in the process of being made with great care. The criteria in sorting out politicians who are not eligible for election candidacy are; 1) people who have or are currently involved in corruption, 2) people who have violated or are violating the Election Law, 3) people who have involved in a military coup or anti-human rights career, 4) people who are not diligently carrying out their parliamentary job and so on. In sum, the CAGE aims to:
- Eliminate corrupted politicians
- Amend the Election Law that denies the peoples’ fundamental political rights
- Organize nation-wide campaigns against old, erroneous political habits and election customs
- Gather international support for the CAGE
- Strong Supports throughout the Country
As soon as the CAGE was created, almost all citizens expressed their support for the CAGE activities. Many civil groups, which had not joined the CAGE in the beginning, started to participate in the campaign and currently the number of participating organizations has reached over 500 at the moment. Professional groups also began to join the CAGE. University professors expressed their support to the campaign and established the Policy Advisory Committee for the CAGE on January 19, and 500 lawyers have been working on making the list. Every day the press and the media are covering detailed activities of the CAGE while paying a close look at the citizens’ strong interests.
The young people in Korea who were indifferent to politics also came to be more and more interested in the April general election as a result of the CAGE activities. Most of them as netizen were informed of the CAGE through the Internet. The Financial Times reported on January 18 that “[t]he power of the Internet is making itself felt ahead of South Korea’s parliamentary elections in April, to the displeasure of the aging political establishment.” It goes further by saying that “the rising influence of the civic groups comes during a period of public disillusionment about politics after a year dominated by corruption scandals.” The Korean politics is in the process of being reshaped by the CAGE with full public support.
An Opinion Poll Shows Strong Public Support
Before the CAGE was created, the preparatory committee conducted an opinion poll to find out public attitude towards politics. The result showed that people are strongly disillusioned with politicians and long for a political campaign against them organized by civil organizations.
Only 9.5 % of the respondents said that they are satisfied with the political reforms by the parliament and the government. 79.8% responded that they would support civil campaigns to eliminate corrupted politicians, even if they are illegal. 81.1% answered that the list of unqualified politicians made by civil organizations would be helpful when they choose a candidate in the election. 74.8% said civil organizations’ campaigns for the April general election would induce a political reform. If a candidate whom they support at the moment is included in the list, 62.8% of the respondents said that they would withdraw their support. And the poll showed that 60.8% of the members of the parliament should be replaced by new, uncorrupted politicians. In response to a question that concerns current activities of the incumbent politicians, 36.5% of the respondents checked, in a scale of 0 to 100% to express satisfaction, in the category below 40%, 41.0% in 41-60%, 18.7% in 61-80%, and only 0.7% in 81-100%.
As shown in the result of the poll, the public explicitly showed their strong discontent with parliamentary activities, the current governmental political reforms, politicians, and politics in general. By contrast, they expressed enthusiasm to support the CAGE activities. And they also believed that the CAGE could undertake the task of political reform at the moment.
As the activities of the CAGE are widely spread to the public through the Internet and mass media, the public is more and more interested in the political reform and, as a result, the degree of their support is further being intensified.
Urgent Announcement !!!
Support of your organizations to the CAGE will be of great help to bring a political reform in South Korea. It also enhances, we believe, the international solidarity for democracy. If you agree with the CAGE activities and are willing to cooperate, please do respond to us by sending the followings:
- a statement of support by your organization
- your experience of this kind of activities information about how civil organizations participate in the political election in your country.
- how the political campaigns of civic groups in the election are regulated by law in your country.
- any advise and opinion concerning the CAGE activities.
The above materials can be used for press release to the Korean public if it is necessary to enhance the CAGE activities.
After the release of the list of unqualified politicians, a newsletter will be published including the responses from the public and political parties. It also will cover the future plan of the CAGE in detail.
The Civil Action for 2000 General Election in Korea (the CAGE)
175-87 Anguk-Dong 2F Anguk Bldg Chongno-Ku Seoul,110-734 KOREA
Tel +82-2-732-0413 Fax -733-0413 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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