[EDITORIAL] 'Borrowed' Politician Stirs MischiefA letter sent to President Kim Dae-jung by Song Sok-chan, a lawmaker who switched his party allegiance from the Millennium Democratic Party to the United Liberal Democrats proposed a merger of the two parties. It is drawing some strange reactions in political circles. Some regard it derisively because the letter is full of obsequious expressions of loyalty to President Kim, anachronistically reminding one of the sort of appeals that were sent to the king during the Choson Dynasty. In one part Mr. Song writes, "Like the salmon, which in order to complete its once-in-a-lifetime sacred mission swims upstream and ends its life, I have made up my mind to devote myself heart and soul to your cause, Mr. President." This is reminiscent of Jeong Cheol's "Ode to a Beautiful Woman." Our democracy has often faltered and backslid because of the authoritarianism of past presidencies. Isn't this flattery just the sort of thing that blinds the president to what is actually going on and leads to further authoritarianism?
In view of the public outrage at the interparty "lending" of legislators, Mr. Song should at the very least show some penitence. In any case, he now belongs to the ULD and should refrain from causing trouble in his new party. But far from being discreet, he has muddied the political waters by suggesting such a merger and called his own political morality into question by openly acting on behalf of the MDP. Mr. Song has gone so far as to claim that he "discussed the party merger idea with the president's closest associates and the MDP leadership." The ruling camp's leaders deny this but at the same time give the impression that they are ready to go along with such a plan. Since these are the same people who would stoop to such political tricks as lending their own members to another party, what else can we expect? It is frustrating see our politics degenerating to such a low level.
The ULD, having succeeded in gaining official recognition as a negotiating body by borrowing four assemblymen from the MDP, now finds itself at the mercy of those borrowed members. It is said that ULD officials were annoyed and called the suggestion of a merger "nonsense," but what can they do? If even one member drops out they will lose their negotiating body status. The borrowed members have embarrassed the ULD by expressing a view contrary to party policy on the issue of National Security Law amendment. This is what happens when politics departs so completely from the straight and narrow.