중앙데일리

[EDITORIAL] Can Ruling Party Chief Cut Muster?

Dec 20,2000
The Millennium Democratic Party has appointed Mr. Kim Joong-kwon, a member of its Supreme Council, as its chairman. Mr. Kim is neither a man from the Cholla Provinces nor a member of the Donggyo-dong Group. His appointment appears to reflect the resolution of President Kim Dae-jung to promote regional harmony and to put an end to the public concern about his so-called closet politics.

Mr. Kim, the former chief of staff for President Kim, does not have a strong power base in the party. That is why some people wonder whether he will have enough power to bring order to the ruling party, which has recently been in disorder, and to lead the party through the reforms demanded by the public. Mr. Kim will have to bear a few things in mind, in order to become a leader powerful enough to achieve the party's goals.

First, he has to earn the respect of his peers and the public. With a firm belief in intra-partisan unity, he has to make himself a leader of the party who can speak up even to the president, if need be. The most prominent position he has held is that of the chief of staff for the president, a position of requiring obedience not leadership. That is why some of the reform-minded members of the ruling party have not been happy with the prospect of his appointment.

Mr. Kim was recently reported to say, "There were no previous ruling parties in which the leadership was attacked from inside. We have to change our attitude to that of a united ruling party." His remarks remind us of the old authoritarian era of the 5th and the 6th republics.

If the party chairman follows orders from the president, it is going to be another type of closet politics. Mr. Kim should not follow the footsteps of his predecessor, Suh Young-hoon, who was turned into a puppet by a few presidential aids. The first task he has to overcome is getting rid of the worries over "secretary politics" by making it clear that he considers his new position different from his previous position.

Mr. Kim's failure in the last election, which left him out of the National Assembly, may lead to further difficulties in his dealings with other parties. We hope, however, that he will overcome them and promote the spirit of mutual contribution in inter-partisan politics. To achieve that goal, he will have first to return his party to the center of politics, and then to negotiate with other parties in a forthright way. The previous inclination of ruling party for an alliance with the United Liberal Democratic has been a sufficient condition for an extreme confrontation with the Grand National Party. A more productive politics calls for more efforts to discuss, to persuade, to negotiate, and to cooperate.

Mr. Kim has to always remember that one of the aims of his appointment is the overcoming of regional conflicts, and to spare no efforts to promote regional harmony. The present government has been trying to justify its partial and unfair official appointments, citing some questionable statistics.

Now that the ruling party has a chairman from Kyongsang to match with a president from Cholla, we hope that the balance will be reflected in future appointments. Then complaints about unfair appointments will diminish and the public sentiment will return to support the government.

This government's lack of credibility has reached a serious level. Even in Kwangju, the home base of the administration, seventeen civil organizations published a joint announcement condemning mismanagement in government. The new chairman has a big job ahead of him.


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