[INSIGHT]Ruling party heads stuck in sand

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[INSIGHT]Ruling party heads stuck in sand

Despite the party mood nationwide over Korea's winning streak in the World Cup finals, some things just have to get done, and analyzing the results of the June 13 local elections is one of them. Even if the elections did get the lowest voter turnout in history, 17 million Koreans still voted and expressed their political beliefs, and the significance of the election results should not fade away without even a whimpering influence on politics.

Survey results of one or two thousand people were always enough to make us quiver with excitement, so why are we being so indifferent to the election results of an entire nation? Moreover, these elections saw the biggest defeat and victory ever in Korean history.

The media are partly to blame for almost forgetting to cover the election results. And, hard as it may be to understand, the Blue House and the political parties seemed to toss the election results to one side.

With common consensus that June 13 was the public's revenge on the recent corruption scandals surrounding the president's sons, there seems to be no follow-up of this after the elections. Have those responsible for committing and protecting this corruption paid for their actions yet? Is anything being done about the political structure and atmosphere that bred such corruption? No one anywhere seems to show any efforts in trying to carry out the public's demand after the elections.

The Blue House -- despite the recent corruption scandals resultingt in election defeat -- is of the position that it has nothing to do with the Millennium Democratic Party's crushing defeat because the president has already resigned from the party. The fact that the president's two sons were arrested, and that his nephew, his wife's nephew, his closest friend and even his wife are under suspicion of influence-peddling, does not seem to change the Blue House's insistence that the party's woes were no fault of the president because he is no longer a member of a party.

President Kim Dae-jung apologized for the first time in person shortly after his second son was detained for bribery allegations. However, his attitude toward those involved in the corruption has raised questions. How could parents not know how the son they sent to the United States to study acquired money to buy a house there? How could they have been the only people not to know that their jobless and income-less son was in fact a billionaire with a penchant for expensive salons? Could it be that they didn't know what their son was doing? However, the president's apology for his "insufficiency and negligence" about his son is not good enough to apologize for the election defeat, and it is a total hypocrisy of the Blue House to deny any role in the Millennium Democratic Party's defeat. In fact, the president should have specifically acknowledged his responsibility for the defeat of the party immediately after the election. His apology after his son's detention should also have been more critical of himself and should have included a concrete determination to root out corruption.

The Millennium Democratic Party did not call anyone to account for the outbreak of corruption scandals that brought their party the biggest election defeat in history. Members have left the party structure and atmosphere intact, and that has given room to members for bribery, money-laundering, high-handed personnel administration and the protection of such profitable behind-the-back deals. They evade mentioning the president's family or their friends. There is only talk of what party regulations will be made in time for the next elections. Shouldn't it at least show to the people some sign of determination to sweep away the corrupt sources found within the party?

The Millennium Democrats should know very well that a failed reform program in the medical field, the disastrous results of the new education system and poor public personnel administration were also reasons for their defeat. The party would do right to apologize to the public for such failures and promise to readjust their policies as well. It makes me wonder how the MDP is planning to run in the next elections without doing any of the above.

The Grand National Party, of course, would be wise to realize that their victory was not brought about by their own merits but by the opposite side's misfortunes, and that they have to be doing a lot more than what they are doing now to advance from being the "lesser of the two evils" to becoming a truly wanted party by the people.

The World Cup has elevated and matured our society. All our cool-headedness as well as our intensity is needed to analyze the message that the June 13 elections have brought.


The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Song Chin-hyok

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