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[Editorial] Eavesdropping, TV fees

The opposition Democratic Party occupied the parliamentary culture committee hall on Tuesday ― an attempt to forcibly block the process of raising the license fee the state broadcaster KBS charges each household. By doing so, it turned itself into a target of public criticism.

The opposition party’s reversal of an earlier accord on raising the TV license fee from 2,500 won to 3,500 won drew denunciation from the ruling Grand National Party and disappointment from KBS.

The flip-flop deserved public censure, as it went against the spirit of a bipartisan accord banning the use of violence in parliamentary sessions and tightening regulations on the parliamentary speaker bypassing standing committees to put bills to votes in plenary sessions on his own. The two parties had agreed to launch the process of legislation to that end the previous day.

But the Grand National Party should probably have been the last to denounce the opposition party’s action, given an allegation that it listened in when the Democratic Party’s Supreme Council was holding a closed session on the TV license fee. As evidence of eavesdropping, the opposition presented the verbatim mention by a Grand National Party lawmaker of remarks made by some of its council members.

The failure to honor an accord and the alleged eavesdropping certainly are two separate issues. But they are related insomuch as the alleged secret recording angered the opposition party and prodded it to renege on its agreement. Nevertheless, the opposition party was grossly ill-advised to attempt to block the legislation process by force.

No less misguided was the secretariat of the National Assembly, which refused to allow the police to start an inquiry into the eavesdropping allegation. It made a lame excuse when it said it did not permit an outside investigation under the principle of the separation of powers.

The police should be allowed to launch an investigation immediately. The allegation of eavesdropping is a serious matter that cannot be ignored. It is a matter of course that the ruling party lawmaker who quoted parts of the allegedly recorded remarks from a document in public, will have to submit the document if requested by the police.
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