June 24, 2010 12:41
The National Defense Committee passed a resolution on Wednesday condemning North Korea for attacking Navy corvette Cheonan and urging strong measures in response to the provocation. The resolution says the attack against the Cheonan was a "clear act of aggression and a crime" and demands from North Korea a "sincere apology, punishment for those responsible, compensation and a pledge not to repeat such acts." The resolution also contains the resolve of South Korean lawmakers to make concerted efforts with the South Korean public in dealing with the Cheonan incident.
But in reality, it was anything but concerted. The main opposition Democratic Party continued to insist that the resolution was "premature" because the public still has suspicions about the results of the multinational inquiry into the sinking. Yet it was passed by the committee because its head, Grand National Party lawmaker Won Yoo-chul, announced its passage after an hour-long debate without giving the DP members time to raise objections. It was a concerted effort only in the stenographic record, while in reality it was only endorsed by the GNP. The National Assembly will convene on Monday to put the resolution to the vote.
The National Assembly wasted 89 days to create this resolution, which came after 80 governments around the world, their leaders and international organizations condemned North Korea for its attack on the Cheonan.
It is no surprise that the public is dumbfounded by the foot-dragging and has begun to question the ability of politicians to deal effectively and decisively with crises facing the country, especially with 2 million armed soldiers lined up along the heavily fortified border.
History has shown that countries that fail to set clear priorities in times of crises and become mired in political squabbling are in trouble. South Korea walked down that very path 60 years ago, and that mistake cost the lives of millions of its people and turned its cities to ashes. Four hundred years ago, the processing of intelligence about enemy movements was also affected by factionalism, and that resulted in an invasion where hundreds of thousands of Koreans were killed or maimed. Back then, Korean peasants threw stones at the kingdom's leaders as they retreated.
South Korean lawmakers were so preoccupied with partisan politics ahead of the regional elections that they failed to produce a single resolution. Two-thirds of South Koreans recalled the government's failures ahead of the Korean War and the Japanese invasion in 1592 as they watched the squabble over the Cheonan resolution. South Koreans are seriously questioning whether the lawmakers belong in the National Assembly.
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