Not the Way to Run a LegislatureIn the aftermath of the ripples caused by three Millennium Democratic Party lawmakers’realignment with the United Liberal Democrats, the MDP coalition partner, the political scene has plunged into an uproar. Was such a trick what the MDP Chairman Kim Joong-kwon had in mind when he talked about unfolding politics of conviction upon his recent appointment to the chair-manship? Was that what President Kim Dae-jung intended when he appointed him? Will the presi-dent’s renewal measure merely end up being “politics of numbers”?
We understand that the minority ruling party struggled to deal with the strong opposition in a political climate where negotiations are rarely seen. We also recognize that one of the causes for the unstable political scene rests with the opposition Grand National Party’s partisan, unyielding attitude. Even so, if all that the ruling party could come up with was the idea of sending its lawmakers to the ULD in order to fill up necessary numbers for the ULD to be registered as a negotiation body in the National Assembly, not to mention that it goes against the wishes of voters as reflected in the general elections, it is a far cry from the people’s expectations. What they want to see is a true democratic process: putting forward a new vision for the 21st century, persuading others with sincerity and reaching an agreement by stepping back a little. The current scandal is equivalent to the declaration that the ruling party will resort to the old-fashioned politics of muscle-flexing and intrigue.
The MDP and the ULD keep assuming a fraudulent posture, claiming that the three lawmakers simply sacrificed themselves for the com-mon good and no prior discussion had taken place. However, the leadership of the two parties had floated the idea of restoring the coalition between President Kim Dae-jung and the ULD Honorary Chairman Kim Jong-pil. ULD Acting President, Kim Chong-hoh, sounded as if he bragged when he said, “Didn’t we guarantee the
formation of a negotiation body by the end of the year?” One of the three lawmakers who switched alliances was a key MDP member as a former secretary to President Kim during his opposition days. If ruling party members claim their ignorance about what happened, do they take the general public for fools? MDP Chairman Kim Joong-kwon said, “The political instability so far has stemmed from the fact that the ULD was not duly recognized.” Instead of self-reflection on their deeds, ruling party members are torturing logic. They should understand that political instability derives from the politics of deception.
What has the ruling party gained with the three lawmakers’ move? Civic groups are urging that the lawmakers return to the MDP, calling the act as an undemocratic way of thinking.” The GNP, which worked toward bipartisan coopera-tion, is bracing for a battle with the ruling party. The move has only brought about the people’s resentment and led to a political confrontation. The ULD may have gained, for it has fulfilled its wish of forming a negotiation body, which allows a subsidy from the state coffers. But it is not a true victory. Even ULD Vice President Kang Chang-hee criticized his own party, saying, “We have sold our pride for a state subsidy.”
The outdated politics of deception only exacerbates the overall crisis Korea is facing now. The ruling party should cancel the three lawmakers’ move or suggest a vision of new politics to persuade the people. Without going through the process of recovering confidence, it is meaningless for President Kim and GNP President Lee Hoi-chang to meet for talks.
by Cho Hae-joang