PSPD English Newsletter, October 2016
- 2016.10.22 (20:06:04)
This Month at PSPD
PSPD is putting more efforts on many activities that it has been carrying out this year. More than 500 citizens have come to the PSPD anniversary on 6 September to give support. PSPD will always be within and with the citizens.
Victory for a public interest lawsuit against the police for interfering with the march, order of disperse and excessive evidence collecting
PSPD has won a lawsuit for public interest again. At the first memorial of Sewol Ferry disaster on 16 April last year, PSPD and its members marched from PSPD secretariat office building to Seoul Square cherishing the deceased. When the march tried to meet bereaved families of Sewol Ferry disaster near Sejong government complex in the course, the police blocked, unreasonably ordered disperse and illegally took photos of the scene. Hence, Ha Tae-hoon, co-president and full time activists of PSPD sued the police for public interest to compensate ₩ 500,000 per person and the Judge Yim Jong-hyo of the Seoul Central Court decided to pay ₩ 300,000 based on following grounds.
△ The course of the march was partly changed but it was small and the reason coincided with the purpose of the march △ There seemed no direct danger on the public order and security so that the disperse order of the police was not justified △ Despite of unlawful order of disperse, the police encouraged taking photos of the scene unnecessarily to pressurize the participants. Police of the Republic of Korea, please have some respects for citizens!
Fear on continuous earthquakes, special measure is required for nuclear power plants
Continuous earthquakes have brought the fear in Korean peninsula. PSPD seriously concerns about the fear of earthquakes and the safety of nuclear power plants. Especially, the ‘Joint Action for nuclear free society’ in which PSPD participates held an emergency press conference “The outbreak of the biggest earthquake, nuclear power plants are dangerous” on 13 September. It said the risks are high because the earthquake on 12 September broke out in Kyeongju where nuclear power plants were densely located. It stressed out that Korea is no longer safe from earthquakes and thus we have to accept the danger signal, establish safety measures and break away from nuclear centered power policy. When another earthquake hit Kyeongju on 19 September, PSPD held an urgent press conference and released a joint statement “Continuous earthquakes, we demand the right to security” criticizing the government for failing to predict and prevent disasters, and urged to prepare a special measure for the safety of the people.
Growing suspicions on corruptions of the Mir and K-Sports Foundation
Unbelievable corruption scandal has broken out. The Jeon Du-hwan administration established an absurd foundation “Ilhae” to forcibly collect contributions and regular bribes from large corporations abusing its power. Circumstances exposed on Mir and K-Sports Foundation are showing similarities with Ilhae. Growing suspicions are the involvement of close aides of the president Park Geun-hye, and breach of trust and bribery of Chaebols. Particularly, it is one of the serious scandals that Choi Soon-sil, a closest aide behind the curtain of the President Park and Ahn Jong-beom, senior secretary for policy coordination have deeply involved in establishment and management of Mir and K-Sports foundation. The investigation has to find the facts and bring the responsible to justice.
If it is found to be true that Ahn pressurized the Federation of Korean Industries to make contributions to fund-raising, it is obviously abusing the power of the government and that is, misfeasance. The acts of forced contribution of corporations are highly regarded as a breach of trust and bribery. If Choi truly intervened in human resources and management in general having the authority of the president on her back, it is misusing the authority for personal interest so that it should be treated strictly. As PSPD has devoted to the State power watch and Chaebol surveillance, it will do its best to find the truth of the case.
Problems are found in both procedures and contents of ‘Dismissal based on performance’ system
Park Geun-hye government constantly attempts to retrograde the labor law during the term. Recently, it made two guidelines to enable dismissal of low performers and ease criteria for changing rules of employment (working conditions). It is additionally pushing for applying ‘Annual salary based on performance’ system to the public sector. In doing so, it has violated restrictions on dismissal described in the Constitution and the Labor Standard Act, and procedures for preparation and amendment of employment rules. Problems are found not only the procedures but also in contents itself. ‘Annual salary based on performance’ system is in fact, dismissal based on performance since the performance in the public service area can’t be scored. It is to facilitate to classify low performers and eventually to fire them for making labor unions of the public sector and basic labor rights lose their powers. If public service collapses, damages will be all on citizens. The people should be able to use public service safely and at reasonable cost but the situation will come out the opposite. Hence, public sector unions resisted with general strikes at the end of September, and PSPD and the civil society have supported and worked together with them.
Finally, Oxy Reckitt Benckiser officially apologized
On 20-23 September, the Special Committee of State Administration Investigation for Oxy disaster and victims of humidifier disinfectant have carried out protests internationally. They visited the headquarter of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser in the UK to appeal and held a rally in front of the residence of British Prime Minister. They also went to the Serious Fraud Office to report Oxy for criminal charges and had a meeting with the Consumers International, an international consumer alliance in order to seek cooperation. Just then, Rakesh Kapoor CEO of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser officially apologized on 23 September. Therefore, the responsibility of the British headquarter is admitted and clear that Korean prosecutors should promptly summon, indict and bring them to justice. The National Assembly needs to extend the state administration investigation period because the Special Committee hasn’t even completed finding the truth phase. Including outcomes of activities in the UK, it has to complete its initial objectives; finding the truth, measures for compensation and specific measure to prevent reoccurrences. PSPD will closely work with the National Network for Humidifier Disinfectant Disaster in order for Punitive Damages Compensation, Collective Action Lawsuit, Punishing Corporation for serious disasters and revision of Chemical agents related legislations.
The baton passed from the movement for half tuition fee to abolishment of entrance fee
The movement has commenced to abolish entrance fee of approx. one million won which is levied to new university students without any ground. PSPD held a press conference on 12 September in front of Sejong government complex for requesting a meeting with an Education Minister with open inquiry in respect to entrance fee. On 22 September, another press conference was held at the National Assembly to inform that entrance fee issue was reported to the Fair Trade Commission and it urged to pass the revision of the Higher Education Act. Educational foundations including Korea, Dongkuk, Hongik, Hanyang and Kyunghee University were reported respectively for abusing market dominance and unfair conduct (forced provision of benefits) of levying university entrance fee. On the other hand, the Youth PSPD reported Choi Kyung-hwan, a former deputy prime minister (current lawmaker of Saenuri Party) eight months ago charging him for illegally and unfairly provided a job for his close aide at the Small and Medium Business Corporation. It was proved that the Youth PSPD was right. The president of the Small and Medium Business Corporation testified at a court that Choi directly pressurized and asked for the position. The prosecutors must investigate Choi right away and punish him with strict standard.
Prosecutors started to summon General Election Net
There are ceaseless oppressions against the 2016 General Election Network of citizens (General Election Net).The police briefed an investigation report on 13 September concerning 22 activists of the General Election Net and forwarded the case to the prosecutors with an opinion of indictment. With no delay, the prosecutors summoned four main activists. Ahn Jin-geol, co-secretary-general of PSPD (co-chairman of the General Election Net) and Lee Gwang-ho, a secretary-general of the Incheon Peace and Welfare Solidarity appeared at the prosecutor’s office on 22 September and held a press briefing insisting ‘Why the General Election Net is innocent’. They protested with silence during interrogation of the police and prosecutors. On 28 September, Lee Jae-geun, a head of Policy Committee of PSPD and Lee Seung-hoon, a secretary-general of the Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea also appeared at the prosecutors. The General Election Net and PSPD will get a decision of innocent so that oppression and harassments of the power against voters’ movements do not repeat.
Sewol Ferry Special Act must be revised
PSPD and civil organizations sincerely wish the victims of the Sewol Ferry disaster rest in peace and hope for those were on board but haven’t found yet to come back to their family; Danwon high school students (Jo Eun-hwa, Heo Da-yoon, Nam Hyun-cheol and Park Young-in), Danwon high school teachers (Yang Seung-jin and Ko Chang-seok) and other passengers (Kwon Jae-geun, Kwon Hyuck-soo and Lee Young-sook).
PSPD is working hard with no pause for finding the truth of the Sewol Ferry disaster and preparing measures to prevent other disasters. On 21 September, it joined in a press conference announcing intensive activities for revision of the Sewol Ferry Special Act in front of the main gate of the National Assembly. It hasn’t stopped taking a part in the rally at Gwanghwamun Sewol Ferry Square. Now, the President Park Geun-hye and the Saenuri Party attempt to terminate the process of finding the truth and activities of the Sewol Ferry Special Committee as of the end of September. However, the National Assembly composed of bigger opposition parties does not seem to take any clear action to stop it. In order to secure enough time for the Special Investigation Committee to find the truth and appoint a special prosecutor for the disaster, the Sewol Ferry Special Act must be revised.