President Kim's Tunnel Vision

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President Kim's Tunnel Vision

With regard to the political turmoil caused by three ruling party members'' flight to the United Liberal Democrats, President Kim Dae-jung commented on Wednesday: "It was inevitable, although undesirable." We are concerned about the future political landscape, having learned that President Kim''s view is drastically different from critical public opinion. He could have offered an apology for opening the New Year with a lowbrow politics of deception before the people, who yearn for a politics of hope, but he struck an opposite posture. Along with the diagnosis that President Kim has a problem in grasping reality, we wonder if he means to tackle national affairs based on the notion of what he has called a "strong government."

President Kim said, "Political instability has impeded the economy. How many difficulties we have suffered since the launch of the ''People''s Government'' because the ruling party has been a minority on the floor! We cannot say that the opposition is free from blame, for it has blocked legitimate methods and refused cooperation."

To paraphrase his words, political unrest gave birth to the economic crisis, and the political instability is due to a legislature composed of a larger opposition and its unwillingness to cooperate. President Kim added that it was desirable for the ULD to form a negotiation body as a "realistic entity," with the logic that voters have given the ULD the deciding vote while withholding a majority both to the Millennium Democratic Party and the Grand National Party. He stressed that restoring a partnership with the ULD was a matter of course because it was what he pledged during the presidential election campaign.

We have mentioned it several times, but we believe that the fundamental cause for political unrest derives from the absence of political acumen on the part of the ruling party. The opposition party is not free from blame, but for the president, the order of the day is to reflect on the ruling party''s lack of capabilities and its complacent response after having failed to persuade the opposition and public opinion. The ULD''s failure to win sufficient seats to be qualified as a negotiation body should be interpreted as the voters'' order to the MDP to unfold high-level politics of negotiations with the largest opposition, the GNP, as a governance partner. The idea of abandoning dialogue and compromise and tackling the situation after swelling the numbers is indeed an act to betray the voters'' mandate. If political instability is responsible for the economic crisis, the more accurate diagnosis might be this: political unrest has mainly derived from the ruling party''s "politics of numbers" that does not stick to democratic procedures and principles. President Kim emphasized democratic procedures and principles during the ceremony to launch business for the New Year in the Blue House. Was the lawmakers'' defection really an "inevitable choice" that adhered to democratic procedures and principles?

It is generally judged that the recent crisis has originated from party politics centered on a handful of the president''s confidants, a dictatorial atmosphere in which the president does not pay attention to criticism and an outmoded politics such as the lawmakers'' overnight switch of alliances. What is more important, it is judged that the politics of deception, as can be seen by the claim of ignorance about the lawmakers'' realignment, is the source of all problems. President Kim is about to meet GNP President Lee Hoi-chang. To make the meeting an arena for productive dialogue, a persuasive settlement of the lawmakers'' flight should come first.
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