[OUTLOOK]Green-Eyed Monster Strikes the MDP

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[OUTLOOK]Green-Eyed Monster Strikes the MDP

The Korean proverb, "Everyone feels the ache in his gut when a cousin buys a rice paddy," has an equivalent in almost every language. However, how to deal with jealousy varies from person to person. People who are confident make jealousy as a driving force to success, but persons with inferiority complexes destroy themselves as they tromp on other person's grass that seems to be greener than theirs. I think the reasons for the Millennium Democratic Party's problems ultimately is jealousy.

When speculation grew about persons said to be participating in the National Reform Committee of the Grand National Party, many people around me said, "We can not expect any meaningful change or reform from them." Some even said, "It would be very fortunate for us if we don't go back to the bad old days with such people." The ruling party, however, got busy trying to scuttle the committee; there was even speculation about using law enforcement authorities to investigate the persons at national institutes or national universities who were thought to be participating in the committee.

The ruling party looked anxious, as if a change in power was imminent. In the midst of such a mood, they produced the fiasco of the naming of Ahn Dong-su as justice minister. The Kim Dae-jung administration had to sack the most capable minster to make room for Mr. Ahn, who lasted less than 48 hours, simply because the newly appointed prosecutor general is from the same region as the minister Mr. Ahn replaced. Why is the ruling party using defensive measures to stay in power rather than governing confidently? What is the origin of such an inferiority complex?

A newspaper columnist and professor of political sociology, Song Bok, mentioned twice in his columns recently that President Kim does not have a college degree. If we agree with his argument, we can understand why the ruling party feels inferior to the opposition party, whose members are predominantly graduates of Seoul National University.

However, how can a man awarded the Nobel Peace Prize be influenced by such idiotic words, even if the person making such comments is a renowned professor at a prestigious university? The late Chung Ju-yung, founder of the Hyundai Group, only graduated from elementary school. A college drop-out, Bill Gates, founded Microsoft and is the world's richest man. It should be a source of pride, rather than shame, that we have a president without a college diploma even in a society where everything is decided by which school or college you went to.

Basically, the ruling party is anxious because it sees the tide turning toward Lee Hoi-chang as the next president. The party has asked its potential candidates to come together in a frontal attack on Mr. Lee. But the inferiority complex which is driving this jealousy and attack will lead them to self-destruction. Instead, the Millennium Democrats should be trying to figure out why Mr. Lee is so popular and what the ruling party is doing wrong. Efforts in that direction would be productive, not destructive.

The reason why the opposition party is succeeding in winning public support is simple. The opposition party is like a soccer team that is about to win a game even without working up a sweat, because the opponents are busy kicking the ball into their own goal. Things became so bad that young reformist lawmakers who are supposed to attack the opponent's goal are busy defending their own. It looks as if the players on the same team are at each other's throats, leading spectators to believe that something is wrong with the team. The younger players are disobedient, asking the head coach to bench the team's star players. But the coach in this case has to take the responsibility for his team's discipline. He must take the blame for creating a situation where his young players work harder to prevent "own goals" than to break the opponent's defenses and score goals for their side. He must reflect on his own coaching techniques first; he must decide why the problems exist, assign players to positions where they can exploit their strengths and get the team to work together. Then, he has a good chance of leading his team to victory. If we look at the objective conditions and factors of Korean politics, the ruling party is not at a disadvantage to the opposition party. There is not much room for the opposition party to play, since the ruling party can run the national government as it wishes, and the opposition can only react. In addition, the opposition party's convention to pick its presidential candidate will not interest the people, since the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

On the other hand, if it follows fair and transparent rules, the ruling party's convention will catch the people's eye, and everyone in the selection process will join forces behind the candidate they elected, acknowledging that the results represented a party consensus. Teamwork is more pivotal to victory than individual feats. The ruling party needs to shed its inferiority complex and defeatism; it must take advantage of its strengths rather than envying the strong points of its opposition.


The writer is a professor of political science at Ewha Womans University.

by Cho Ki-suk

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