Saturday, October 30, 2004

National Assembly in Gridlock.....Again.

The National Assembly was boycotted by the Grand National Party over comments made by Prime Minister Lee Hai-Chan against the GNP and the Chosun Ilbo and Dong-a Ilbo. According to the Joongang Ilbo,

The conflict between Mr. Lee and the Grand Nationals began last week when Mr. Lee said during a European tour, "The whole world knows that the Grand National Party is bad." Mr. Lee refused to apologize, as the party requested, and stepped up his attacks. Yesterday, during a meeting with governing Uri Party lawmakers, Mr. Lee said, "The Grand National Party should offer an apology for its unwarranted attacks calling the Roh administration leftist."
And apparently this is very bad because the PM is supposed to be non-partisan. The GNP has gone so far as to appeal to the National Election Committee because,

"Prime Minister Lee's remarks were in breach of the political neutrality of the official responsible for the overall administration of the government, exposed a dangerous anti-liberal democracy view on the press, and caused a political catastrophe by attacking the opposition party for partisan interests," said Rep. Lim Tae-hee, speaking for the GNP at a press briefing. "The GNP won't join any National Assembly session until the issues surrounding Prime Minister Lee are addressed."

After holding Prime Lee's debasing remarks in breach of the Constitution on the political neutrality of government servants and the electoral code, the GNP filed a motion with the National Election Commission over the legality of his remarks.
The GNP has also stated that if Roh Moo-Hyun doesn't have him fired they will seek impeachment. You'd think the GNP would be wary of talk of impeachments after the damage it did them last time they tried to blow things way out of proportion. Of course the timing could not be much better as end of the year also means end of the fiscal year in Korea, making this the season for Annual Budget to be approved by the NA. Although I wasn't able to find/ask on information as whether this is currently being held up by the latest personal tiffs among political parties. (If I get an update on the status of the budget I'll update).

US-Korea Relations

John Feffer, author of North Korea, South Korea: US Policy at a Time of Crisis, and current fellow at Stanford's Korea Studies Program has written on Untangling the Knot: The Future of US-South Korea security Relations in which he addresses the differences in perception between US and South Korea in dealing with North Korea. Regarding South Korea's approach to North Korea, he notes that:

South Korean military expenditures are rising, border policing and surveillance remain at a high pitch, and there is no naivete? within Seoul's military and intelligence communities concerning North Korean motives. Instead of being "soft," the South Korean government is essentially acting pragmatically.

However, the continual delay of the defense White Paper due to a reluctance to name North Korea as the "main enemy" is a concern regarding which direction defense issues are going to take in the future. If South Korea starts to perceive the North Korea as less of a threat than Japan, whose posture in Iraq and defense capabilities are becoming more offensive, than the rise in military spending may not be pragmatic toward North Korea but more prepatory for shifts in the geo-political power in the region once US forces start to deploy.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui