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MDP girds for reform - or a purge

Dec 23,2002
Senior aides of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun have launched a wide-ranging party reform that could result in the scrapping of the Millennium Democratic Party as it is now constituted, and the victors called for some heads to roll.

Twenty-three MDP lawmakers, led by Chough Soon-hyung, Chung Dong-young, Shin Ki-nam and Chun Jung-bae, said yesterday that the election was a victory for people who call for abolishing the "old politics" of the MDP and the Grand National Party. "The MDP should give up all its vested rights and reinvent itself," they said. The lawmakers also said those responsible for corruption and maladministration during the Kim Dae-jung administration should be held accountable.

Mr. Chough said the old politics ran counter to principles of democracy. The remark was aimed, political observers said, at the MDP faction that tried to oust Mr. Roh as the party's candidate when his ratings in the polls were low.

Mr. Chough also called for resolving pending problems and reprimanding the MDP senior executives. That, political observers said, was a coded call for the resignations of MDP Chairman Hahn Hwa-kap and Chung Kyun-hwan, the party's floor leader.

The Blue House expressed its regrets about the statement's mention of corruption in the current administration. "There has been corruption at the individual level and we regret not being able to prevent it," a Blue House official said. "But there has been no cozy relationship between business and the government on a serious level." Mr. Hahn said he did his utmost to win the election, and Mr. Chung warned that focusing on changing party posts could result in a power struggle. Other members of the Donggyo-dong faction loyal to president Kim Dae-jung were busy trying to decipher Mr. Roh's intentions.

Mr. Roh, who vacationed in Jeju Island over the weekend, seemed to be backing reform-oriented lawmakers ?he said reforms should proceed with prudence, but he could not dictate them. Lee Nak-yon, Mr. Roh's spokesman, said Mr. Roh's transition team would focus on promoting consistent policies and good analysis of pending issues. Mr. Lee said the transition team would be formed after its scope of work is determined. He added that there would probably also be an advisory body composed of party advisors and academics. It is unlikely that any reorganization of the National Intelligence Service would take place soon, Mr. Lee said.

There will be two weddings in Mr. Roh's family before he is inaugurated. His son, Roh Geon-ho, will marry on Christmas Day and his daughter plans to be married sometime before Mr. Roh's inauguration on Feb. 25.

Mr. Roh's spokesman said both weddings will be quiet ones, with invitations going only to the families and to personal friends of the families.

by Choi Hoon




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