[EDITORIALS]A Welcome Decision by the President

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[EDITORIALS]A Welcome Decision by the President

President Kim Dae-jung's resignation from the presidency of the Millennium Democratic Party is a decision of great import.

It is a good decision, and will make some room for President Kim to focus on running the government and change the governing structure that has been a swamp of political struggle.

There are certain limits and reservations in Mr. Kim's decision, because it was forced by the political situation which went out of control due to intraparty strife. But if he sticks to his announced withdrawal from his political party leadership post, a decision which could not have been made easily, he may be able to run the government properly and effectively during the last year of his term. Accepting the resignation of Park Jie-won, the senior presidential secretary for policy and planning, is a good start to reinventing the government.

Under this situation of total national crisis, it is not proper for Mr. Kim to stay on as the president of the ruling party. The public spoke clearly in the by-elections; the present political leadership is not doing a good job. President Kim's crisis was brought on by a bad economy, regional wounds reopened by biased appointments, suspicions about politically sensitive scandals, ideological disputes over his policy toward the North and bungled diplomacy.

The president must have decided that he could not solve all the pressing problems with aspirin and Band-Aids, and the opposition, only one seat shy of an Assembly majority, would not stand for unreasonable or ineffective solutions.

The term "lame duck" is too mild to explain the unprecedented strife within the ruling party, whose members complained that they could not win the next presidential election with a party led by Mr. Kim.

His resignation from the party presidency was one of his election pledges made when he was campaigning for president. The former presidents Kim Young-sam and Roh Tae-woo did the same thing, but only after the ruling party's presidential candidate was selected. Mr. Kim should focus on reviving the economy and inter-Korean relations, as he said in explaining his resignation. At the same time he should thoroughly review the current crises and use his newly politically neutral presidency to put things right. The Blue House and the prosecution should be among the first to be revamped. Next, the cabinet of Prime Minister Lee Han-dong, its public trust in tatters, should be replaced entirely with people who have special knowledge and whom the people trust. That would minimize the tendency of ministers to court presidential candidates instead of doing their jobs, and would make opposition cooperation more likely.

Without Mr. Kim, the MDP will probably be the scene of frantic mudslinging by presidential hopefuls. If it indeed moves in that direction rather than helping the president solve the problems, it will soon be a minor party and shunned by the people.

The Grand National Party should help the president solve those national problems by showing unreserved bipartisan cooperation. If there is more confusion or a vacuum in national politics, the GNP will be held responsible for it, since the GNP is now actually in charge of national politics. The political landscape has changed completely, including the outlook for the next presidential election. We urge the Blue House and both the ruling and opposition parties to reflect on what has gone wrong in the past and put things back in order in the remaining year of President Kim's term in office.
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