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Internal Fighting Continues to Rock The Ruling Party

Dec 23,2000
The ruling Millennium Democratic Party's reforms, intended to pump new blood into the organization and to end the dominance of one faction, are causing new discontent in the party. It has been rocked in the past month by internal dissension.

Party lawmakers are criticizing President Kim Dae-jung's appointment of non-natives of Honam - a term referring to South and North Cholla Provinces, the power base of the president. Vowing to end regionalism, he has appointed people from Kyongsang and Kyonggi Provinces to posts.

It is the first time that ruling party lawmakers have openly opposed the party chief's decision in personnel. Aware that observers question Mr. Kim's grip on the party, the Blue House has set out to quiet the internal rumblings.

The incumbent minister of maritime affairs and fisheries, Noh Mu-hyun, attacked the new party chairman, Kim Joong-kwon, a native of Kyongsang province, Thursday night, saying, "We may let an opportunist join us, but can we serve such a person as a leader?"

Despite attempts by the ruling party to squelch the remarks, Mr. Noh stuck to his words by explaining them as his own political philosophy. Mr. Noh, who has already been warned by the Blue House to stop making political comments, has again been told by the presidential office to tend to official duties.

"What is the barometer for calling someone an 'opportunist? As the minister of maritime affairs and fisheries, he will do better to revive dwindling public trust by attending to ministry affairs," a Blue House official said on the condition of anonymity.

The new party chairman responded, "The people will know better whether I am an opportunist or not. In politics, it is not timing that is important but the style of politics you carry through."

In naming the new leadership, the president took a regional approach, giving preference to lawmakers from Chungchong and Kyonggi Provinces. This is aimed at forging a merger between the ruling party and the United Liberal Democrats, allowing the party to obtain a majority in the 273-seat National Assembly.


by Lee Yang-soo




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