PSPD Newsletter, Aug.,2016
- 2016.08.11 (16:06:28)
This Month of the PSPD
PSPD has begun activities to oppose THAAD deployment which seriously threatens the peace of Korean peninsula as well as Asia. It will keep pushing for establishment of an investigation bureau for corruptions of high-level officials, and adoption of punitive damage compensation and collective lawsuit system. Being with bereaved families of Sewol Ferry and humidifier sanitizer disaster is what PSPD is for. It will stop unfair investigation on the General Election Network and PSPD. The endeavor will be made to reform and revise the National Election Committee and the Election Act.
It’s time to set up an investigation bureau for corruptions of high-level public officials
The faith people have in prosecutors has already dropped to the ground but the situation is still getting worse. Recently, corruption scandals of current and former prosecutors have been exposed one after another. Right after judicial corruption of Hong Man-pyo, a former director of the Prosecutor’s Office and bribery case of Jin Kyung-jun, a current director were revealed, various corruptions and suspicions of Woo Byung-woo, a former high-level prosecutor and a current senior secretary to the President for civil affairs have covered top news. Public opinion is urging the reform of prosecutors and there is desperate social demand for adoption of an ‘Investigation Bureau for corruptions of high-level public officials’ which is independent from the Prosecutor’s Office. It seems to be the right time to set up an investigation bureau.
PSPD has measures for the reform of prosecutors and establishing an investigation bureau is a core system. Civil organizations which have worked for anti-corruptions and the reform of prosecutors held a press conference on 25 July urging the establishment of a bureau and they are also contending with the Saenuri Party, a sole opponent. Organizations including the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice, the Minbyun, PSPD, YMCA Korea, the Transparency International Korea, Transparent Society Division of the Young Korean Academy will closely cooperate for this matter as well as to root out illegality and corruptions.
Giving up privileges of lawmakers must be done properly
Jeong Sei-gyun, a president of the 20th National Assembly has attained attention both internally and externally because he willingly initiated the ‘Committee for giving up privileges of lawmakers’. It is necessary to expand an administration department of the National Assembly and its roles to watch and check on large cap but unfair privileges must be taken off. Concerning the matter, PSPD has submitted a letter of opinion to the National Assembly on 21 July suggesting five tasks to discuss for the Committee for giving up privileges of lawmakers as follow.
△ Prohibit employing families and relatives at lawmaker’s office △ Abolish expenses for special activities, △ Enhance criteria for ethical review on colleagues, △ Abolish practices related to entering the National Assembly and allow demonstrations and rallies in front of the National Assembly, △ Secure the right of petition and remove restrains to attend meetings. Efforts of PSPD will be continued to make the National Assembly for the people, by the people and of the people.
We will stop THAAD deployment
THAAD worries many people because it threatens the peace of the Korean Peninsula and Asia, and furthermore, instigates new cold war in East Asia. It is also a threat to the national economy which is already stagnated. In other words, THAAD deployment runs counter to the peace and reviving the economy. PSPD is working hard to inform the people with problems associated with THAAD. Approval of the National Assembly is required for deployment but the government denies it. Hence, PSPD and the Minbyun held a press conference on 19 July asking the National Assembly to take an action. They are planning to form a national network to effectively respond to THAAD issues. On 21 July, a press conference was held to explain the stance of Korean Civil Society to foreign media. THAAD deployment is not just a problem for Seongju residents and no citizen is an outsider of THAAD. PSPD will closely work together with Seongju residents to stop THAAD deployment.
Protest has continued more than 900 days to throw out Yongsan screen gambling place on horse races
Yongsan residents are still fighting against the biggest screen gambling place located in the middle of Seoul center, even in the neighbor of schools and residential blocks. As of 26 July, the protest continued for 1,181 days and tent demonstration for 917 days. 1,570 Students, teachers and parents of Seongsim middle and high school in Yongsan signed on four bills; Health and Sanitary of School Act, Education Environment Protection Act, Integrated Inspection for Speculation Industry and Korea Racing Authority Act, and held a press conference at the National Assembly to request legislations in order to expel screen gambling from Yongsan district. If a choice has to be made between gambling and education, or between destroying and protection of livelihood, an answer is clear with no doubt. All gambling must disappear. Especially, gambling places in front of a school and residential area must be closed first.
Huge disappointment! Minimum hourly wage to be increased by 7.3% in 2017
The Minimum Wage Committee decided to increase minimum hourly wage by 7.3% (₩ 440) to ₩ 6.470 from 1 January 2017. The increase rate of 7.3% stands about in the middle of review range that Public Interest Members suggested and lower than 8.1% increase of the last year. This is very disappointing result. Despite of growing social demand on realizing minimum hourly wage of ₩10,000 or a surge increase, the Government, Employer Commissioners and Public Interest Members frustrated the people ignoring their livelihood.
When Labor Commissioners and Employer Commissioners do not come close to an agreement, minimum hourly rate is decided according to a suggestion of Public Interest Members. The problem is Public Interest Members are appointed by government’s recommendation. Hence, having the National Assembly or civil society alternatively to make recommendations can be a solution. Meanwhile, PSPD will try to enhance punishment for employers who do not comply with minimum wage and stop the attempt of Park Geun-hye government to ease penalties on violation of minimum wage. It will try harder for sharp increase of minimum wage in the next time.
Actively responding to unreasonable investigation of Park Geun-hye Government,
the Prosecutors and the Police on the General Election Network
Park Geun-hye Government, the Prosecutors and the Police executed search and seizure on 16 June on offices of the General Election Network for Citizens, PSPD, the Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea, and also residences of the General Election Network main activists. It clearly shows their biased view and oppression on the civil society. Specially, Lee Chae-ik, a lawmaker of the Saenuri Party outrageously accused the Net at the interpellation on 5 July absurdly insisting to investigate who was behind the Net and Hwang Gyo-an instantly answered to do so as waited to be asked. Indeed, the prosecutors and the Police are intensively investigating the Net. Therefore, the Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea established the ‘Special Committee to Secure Voters’ Right’ on 13 July in order to counteract oppression and revenges of Park Geun-hye government on the civil society. When Ahn Jin-geol, a co-chairperson of the General Election Network and Lee Jae-geun, a co-secretary general appeared at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on 14 July, they held a press conference and appealed to stop oppression on justified and reasonable voters actions.
Nevertheless, the Prosecutors and the Police attempted to set up the Network while interrogating four activists as if it carried out illegal activities and did something wrong. To protest against excessive and unjust investigation, they exercised the right of silence. The Prosecutors and the Police are planning to prosecute activists with or without detention.
The General Election Network has formed a defense counsel mainly from the Minbyun and PSPD. It is doing its best to prove voter activities of the civil society are innocent and legitimate. Moreover, PSPD and the Civil Society Network are actively working for the reform of the National Election Commission and the Election Law.
“Students work harder when they have loans”,
absurd remark made by a chairman of the Korea Student Aid Foundation
Ahn Yang-ok, a new chairman of the Korea Student Aid Foundation inappropriately said “Students work harder when they have loans” at the press meeting on 4 July when explained the plan to reduce national scholarship fund and to increase interest-free loans. Therefore, the National Action to lower down tuition fee to the half and the Campaign for Anyone with Stable Life of PSPD strongly denounced irresponsible remark of Ahn and pointed out that he was not qualified to be a chairman of the foundation.
Cumulative student loaners between 2009 and 2015 have reached 3.26 million people and 14.8 trillion won in amount. Loan can be a burden and a pain, but it can’t be a motivation. Without fulfilling a promise to lower down tuition fee to the half, how much debts Park Geun-hye government and a chairman Ahn would lay in to students in this country? Ahn has to apologize to tertiary students and parents, and try to implement a policy to ease household debts and student loans.
The Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea,
what has it done so far regarding Humidifier sanitizer disaster?
Voices are growing on the Board of Audit and Inspection in respect to delaying inspections on responsible government bodies for humidifier sanitizer disaster, a national tragedy. The board is being questioned what it has done till more than 700 people have been confirmed dead. The Friends of the Earth Korea, PSPD and the Minbyun have requested an inspection for public benefits twice on 29 March and 20 May. However, the board should have carried out its duty before requested. Baek Hye-ryeon, a lawmaker of the The Minju Party (Legislation and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly) also officially criticized the board on 12 July that failing to make a decision on inspection for sanitizer disaster was a serious negligence. That is, there was no reason to delay commencement of the inspection. A decision whether to execute an inspection has to be made within one month from the submission date of a request for public benefits by the law so that the board is derelict in its duty. Therefore, the National Network for humidifier sanitizer disaster, the Friends of the earth Korea, PSPD and the Minbyun presented a denouncing statement on 20 July and visited the Board to protest on 21 July demanding an instant commencement of inspection on humidifier sanitizer disaster. In addition, they delivered a document requesting additional inspections on ‘Integrated failures of governments on harmful chemical products used in daily life and general management system of toxic materials’
Refute Korea Employer's Federation which disapproves corporate tax increase
Not only business circles including the Korea Employer’s Federation but also Park Geun-hye government repeatedly threaten and deceive the people insisting corporate tax must not be increased. The anger and disappointment of the people over Chabeol and large conglomerates are growing day by day since they do anything to satisfy their greed but ignore social responsibility. As PSPD has carried out various projects for democracy in economy and Chabeol reform, it presented a material on 21 July to refute ‘Five misunderstandings on corporate tax increase’ released by the Korea Employer’s Federation.
PSPD pointed out that low corporate tax policy implemented since Lee Myung-bak administration has made national economy concentrated on large conglomerates and accelerated bipolarization. Fiscal soundness of the state has fallen. Increasing corporate tax to a normal level is the first step for fair taxation. Furthermore, PSPD will do the best to raise corporate tax to the level of Noh Moo-hyun administration before this National Assembly term ends.