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(EDITORIAL from the Korea Times on Aug. 5)
Let politics work
DP should end outdoor protests as soon as possible

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) held a massive rally in central Seoul Saturday as part of its outdoor protests against what it claims to be the ruling party’s attempt to sabotage a parliamentary probe into the state spy agency’s alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election.

   During the rally at Seoul City Hall Plaza, Rep. Kim Han-gil, the DP chairman, demanded a thorough investigation into the National Intelligence Service’s alleged wrongdoing, punishment of those responsible for the illegal acts and an apology from President Park Geun-hye. Kim, in particular, proposed talks with Park to resolve the looming political deadlock.

   Some of the participants chanted ''down with Park,’’ and a number of DP lawmakers, including Kim, attended a subsequent candlelight vigil organized by leftist civic groups at the same venue.

   The rival parties have been haggling over how to ensure that two key figures in the probe _ former NIS chief Won Sei-hoon and former Seoul police head Kim Yong-pan _ appear in parliamentary hearings scheduled for this week.

   The liberal opposition party demands that the investigation committee issue an advance order that the two unconditionally comply with summons, while the governing Saenuri Party says the demand is unacceptable because a compliance order can be issued when witnesses snub summons without justifiable reasons.
Both the ruling and opposition parties deserve harsh criticism for crippling the National Assembly at a time when they have to grapple with bills related to people’s livelihoods amid the continuing economic gloom.

   This is no time for the DP to waste time and energy on the streets and for the Saenuri Party to issue useless statements without sincerity. It’s encouraging in this regard that the rival parties have been conducting negotiations under the table to normalize the legislature.

   The lion’s share of the blame must be placed on the ruling party, which has made little effort to bring the two key figures to take the witness stand even after it gave consent to the parliamentary probe into the intelligence agency’s alleged posting of pro-Park Geun-hye messages on the Internet.

   It’s also dumbfounding that Saenuri Chairman Hwang Woo-yea left for Warsaw to chair a meeting on North Korean human rights even after proposing a meeting to find a breakthrough to the stalemate.

   In fact, there are speculations about why the DP deserted the Assembly and decided to resort to outdoor rallies. It appears that the liberal party attempted to escape from its unfavorable situation in the wake of another hot-button political issue ― the missing of the transcript of the 2007 inter-Korean summit.

   What’s most pathetic is that lawmaking legislators violated a relevant Seoul City ordinance obliging prior registration to use the plaza and are facing fines. It’s naive if the DP believes that it can push up its crashed approval ratings through outdoor protests.

   Now is the time for the rival parties to restore calm and let politics work. To this end, the main opposition party should take down the tents as soon as possible.