The U.S. Congress, where an opposition party seems incapable of doing anything to counter the political agenda of the most unpopular president in history, might take some lessons from the Korean National Assembly, where disputes are not only openly aired, they are openly fought. My favorite detail might be the electric saw:
It was the battle of the legislators yesterday in the National Assembly. Dozens of United New Democratic Party lawmakers used their fists and an electric saw during a violent physical confrontation with Grand National Party politicians staging a sit-in to protect presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak from an independent counsel investigation.
Workers helped UNDP lawmakers by using the saw to cut through a metal pipe barring a door into the main Assembly hall. The GNP had occupied the hall for two days, vowing to prevent their foes from entering. A screaming tussle ensued as the liberal lawmakers entered and the two sides laid into each other.
The entire mess was carried live on cable television.
The fisticuffs erupted because the GNP is trying to physically prevent voting on a UNDP bill to appoint an independent prosecutor to reinvestigate the BBK investment fraud scandal. Lee was cleared by prosecutors of involvement in the fraud last week but the UNDP is not satisfied and wants to conduct a new probe. The GNP says the move is nothing but raw politics on the eve of the presidential election.
The UNDP and its allies have the votes to pass the measure, which could cast last-minute doubts on Lee’s race for president.
National Assembly Speaker Lim Chae-jung temporarily ended the battle yesterday by scheduling a review of the bill by noon Monday in the legislative committee. Failing that, he will put the bill to a vote directly on Monday using his own authority.
More violence is expected Monday as the GNP promises to block the measure. The presidential election is Wednesday.
The next few days should be interesting indeed.
The battle of the coordinated dancers is raging full time too. Throughout the city you can see the candidate's open-backed trucks with color coordinated dancers. The other day in Sinchon there were two trucks on opposite sides duking it out at the same time. The dancers for Candidate #3 were desultory at best. Chung Dong-Young candidate #2 (the man I saw speak) has some seriously committed and energetic dancers. Though his approval ratings don't seem to be reflecting that energy...