PSPD in English Newsletter 2012-08-22   5237

PSPD Newsletter: July-August 2012

PSPD Newsletter July-August
Lee Tae-ho, Secretary-General of PSPD received the 14th Hankyoreh Reunification and Culture Award
Lee Tae-ho, Secretary-General of PSPD received the 14th Hankyoreh Reunification and Culture Award on 18 July 2012. The Hankyoreh Foundation for Reunification and Culture stated that Lee has contributed in bringing peace and disarmament movement to the public since mid-1990 and led to establish a structure to monitor national defence and diplomacy which is regarded as an untouchable field by people. He also raised rational questions to the Government’s briefing on the result of police investigation for Cheonan Ship sinking incident in 2010 that tried to raise awareness on peace.  
Below is a summary of Lee’s acceptance speech:

“This award recognizes people’s spirit that pursues the truth of the Cheonan Ship sinking incident and democratic belief that diplomacy and national security should not be an exception in which ordinary people can participate. I believe that this award is for efforts of all unknown peace activists who devoted themselves for disarmament of the Korean Peninsula and the world.
When the Cheonan Ship sank in 2010, PSPD sent a letter to the UN raising questions on the investigation procedures and the results. As soon as media covered this, PSPD became a target of criticism by the Government, a ruling party, conservative media and groups. The staffs of PSPD encountered all kinds of physical threats, and co-representatives and some staffs received summons from the prosecutor’s office. What PSPD and people have requested to the Government was transparency, responsibility, freedom of expression and the truth. Every single request was a principle value of liberal democratic society which is enshrined in our Constitution. 
Even though it may be a forbidden sanctuary under the name of national security and interest of the Government, PSPD will continue to seek truth of irrational incidents happening within the area of national defence, diplomacy and national security. 
For the true safety of the people, PSPD will keep working hard for peace and cooperation without being trapped within the borders. Thanks to individual members who continue to support PSPD in any circumstances, it keeps walking on its way. PSPD expresses sincere gratitude to all the members.”
<Civil and Political Rights related activities>
1. Supreme Court Justices, they were not whom people wanted

Pre-appointment hearing for the Supreme Court Justices was held on 10 to 13 July 2012. While assessing candidates on raised suspicions and tendency of favouring conglomerates, dark era of justices seemed to stretch out.  What people want is a balanced and unbiased justice. However, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court recommended so called ‘elite judges and prosecutors’ because he only considered promotion of high level judges and prosecutors. Before the pre-appointment hearing, PSPD sent questionnaires to hearing committee members. After monitoring the hearing, PSPD proceeded activities to object and stop appointment of unqualified candidates such as Mr. Kim Byung-hwa. In addition to this, PSPD hold a press conference and announced a joint declaration to stop consecutive appointment of unqualified Mr. Hyun Byung-cheol, the chairperson of the National Human Right Commission of Korea. 
2. Illegal surveillance on civilians, Truth should be revealed by the National Assembly Investigation

The Special Committee of the National Assembly to Investigate Illegal Surveillance and Destroying Evidences (Special Committee) is not making any progress. According to the ‘National Assembly session opening agreement’, signed by floor leaders of political parties on 29 June 2012, the Special Committee was supposed to be formed with equal number of members from ruling and opposition parties by 5 July and investigation plan was scheduled to be discussed at the general meeting on 16 July. However, even after 16 July, none of these two agreements have completed. PSPD issued a statement urging Saenuri party (ruling party) to fully cooperate on this matter. PSPD will continue to demand for immediate start of the investigation by the National Assembly. 
<Socio-Economic Rights related Activities>

1. The Citizens’ Movement to summon Lone Star continues    

What strategy the Korean government can take to win the investor-state dispute that Lone Star initiated against the Government? What would be the best measure for financial authority to protect more than one trillion won of tax payers’ money from Lone Star?  Bearing these questions in mind, the press conference was held on 10 July 2012 by civil society organizations and Mr. Kim Ki-joon, parliamentarian of the Democratic Party. Lone Star alleges that delay of divestment approval by Korean financial authority has hindered attempts to sell stake of Korea Foreign Exchange bank and incurred losses along the way. Furthermore, imposing capital gains taxes on the divestment breaches avoidance of double taxation according to the Bilateral Investment Treaty between Korea and Belgium.
The Civil Economy Committee of PSPD, as a representative of Korean Exchange Bank stockholders, officially filed a stockholders’ representative suit against Lone Star on 23 July 2012. It is to identify the fact that Lone star was industrial capital as defined in the Bank Law, hence was not qualified for a dominant stockholder of financial entity. Consequently, buying and controlling Korean Exchange Bank was invalid. If Lone Star’s right to be a dominant stockholder failed to be recognized by the court, it would lose the ground for ISD and unable to claim losses and tax exemption against the Korean government. 
2. No to national scholarship system, Yes to half-tuition fee 

The President Lee Myng-bak and Saenuri Party presented the ‘National scholarship system’ as a refusal and dilution of half-tuition fee policy which gained a huge support from the people. Recipients of the current national scholarship system are very limited. Total applicants reaches 1,647,818 but actual recipients is only 50.6% of all applicants. Considering that there are 3,074,000 university students in total (National Statistical Office, 2010), actual recipients dropped down to 27.2%. Moreover, scholarship type II pays average 468,700 KRW that it does not seem to help. Comparing it with the burden of tuition fee and education expenditure for students nationwide, the system provides a very little assistance.
The only one solution is to realise half-tuition fee at the earliest in all colleges and universities, execute additional subsidies and free education, and/or extend national scholarship for low income families in parallel. Even at this moment, PSPD continues various activities including a relay of one-person demonstration, issues reports, cooperates with the National Assembly and holds student-parents joint events in order for realising half-tuition fee and educational welfare.
3. Fact-finding report of irregular workers in public sector I: Metropolitan Governments

The Labor and Social Committee of PSPD issued the ‘Fact-finding report of irregular workers in public sector I: Metropolitan Governments’. The report presents results of analysing manpower and working conditions of 16 metropolitan governments from 2007 to 2012. The ratio of irregular employment to total has increased. Basic wage and bonus for irregular and permanent employment are seriously discriminated and the gap gets widened every year.
PSPD analyses that irregular employment is the main cause of polarization and poverty in this society and public sectors should take initiatives to reduce irregular workers and try to improve discrimination against them. PSPD will closely monitor and assess whether employment policy and practices of converting irregular to permanent contract make any progress, and urge public organizations to take responsibility for the problems associated with irregular employment.  
<Peace and Disarmament>

1. The 27 July Peace Declaration on the 59th year of the armistice agreement

It has been already passed 59 years since 27 July 1953 when the Korean War was ceased after leaving numberless deaths and inestimable property damages. The 27 July Peace Declaration on the 59th year of the armistice agreement was adopted on 26 July. By using the opportunity of the 2012 Presidential Election which will be happening at the end of this year, the declaration calls on opening an era of peace and cooperation in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. The Declaration urges choosing the way to peace in addition to democracy and social welfare. >> Full Declaration


2. Grand March for the Peace of Gangjeong

“Grand March for the Peace of Gangjeong” was held in Jeju from 30 July to 4 August 2012. Five nights and six days walk wished for the peace of Gangjeong village which has been groaned under the naval base construction for the last 6 years and rebirth of Jeju island as a ‘living peaceful Island’. Participants in the Grand March emphasized in their ‘Declaration on the Grand March for the peace of Gangjeong’ that Jeju island has a right to demand ‘peace’ and building Jeju naval base is meaningless without a consent of the people and the residents of the village. Sweltering heat could not stop them. For a peaceful settlement, the Grand March tried to convey people’s call which urges the Government for immediate stop the construction, stop deploying police forces, official apology to the people including the residents, and reconsideration of the construction plan. In total, around 7,000 people have taken part in the Grand March. On 4 August, the last day of the march, around 4,000 participants hold a cultural event at Tapdong Square, calling for total annulations of the construction and peace in Gangjeong. 
3. PSPD criticised secretly discussed agreement on the protection of classified military information 
On 26 June 2012, the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of Japan on the Protection of Classified Military Information (Agreement) secretly passed the Cabinet. In addition to this, before the Cabinet, on 23 April, both Governments signed provisional agreement. The Agreement was postponed due to fierce criticism by people, but the Korean Government only pointed out procedural problems as the main reason of postponement. The Agreement might bring a momentous change in our national defence strategy and Northeast Asia military map. PSPD is greatly concerned that the Agreement was pushed forward under the table without any social discussion. As a result, PSPD requested the Government to release the information three times and send open questionnaire two times. Unfortunately, the Government did not disclose most information under the reason of national security and it does not share any information on its further plan. PSPD will continue its work on monitoring diplomacy and national security policies. 

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