Time to Stop the Political Backbiting

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Time to Stop the Political Backbiting

The political scene is getting ever grimmer. The Blue House and the ruling party are on a ceaseless offensive against the opposition as the prosecution''s investigations move on the former ruling camp and the current opposition.

The opposition, for its part, is meeting these attacks with a life-or-death determination. It is difficult to hazard a guess how far prosecutors will go with their probes or whether the confrontation between the ruling party and the opposition will ever end. A concerted effort to seek solutions to the economic crisis has given way to incessant political squabbles.

The political scene has become utterly chaotic. No dignity can be found in a volley of verbal exchanges, and each side has become self-righteous. The ruling camp is raising the issue about the harsh use vocabulary - for example, derogatory terms aimed at the president. There has even been a childish dispute over whether a pot of orchids, given as a birthday gift, was altogether welcomed at the door by Blue House.

With the eruption of pent-up emotions, the hostility is so thick that it can be cut with a knife. The prosecution''s investigation results have yet to be announced, but the ruling party''s chairman is firing shots at the head of the opposition daily, claiming that he must have been involved in unsavory conduct.

The opposition''s spokesman did not hesitate to use vulgarity when he said, "The coalition government between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil is a mule that does not have the ability to procreate."

What is more regretful is that three Kims ?Kim Dae-jung, Kim Jong-pil and Kim Young-sam ?are at the center of this mudslinging, and that we detect signs of behavior dating to the era of the three Kims. Instead of overcoming the examples of worn-out politics ?regionalism, dictatorial management under one boss, confrontation ?they are being revived intact. In other words, the expectations for a new politics are fading fast. Under the strife engaged by three Kims and Lee Hoi-chang lies a determination to stanch the early weakening of power and the competition for the next presidential election. That is why the picture appears so convoluted and complicated.

Politicians should not have the latitude to waste time with such narrow-minded games. Other nations have spurted way ahead of us with their ambition to lead the 21st century. Time is immensely valuable in the Information Age. If we dally now, Korea will lag behind other nations once again.

If political circles fail to regain rationality, they will be the targets of criticism in the generations to come. Resolving the economic crisis is as urgent as a fire fallen on our feet. To settle this pressing issue, the ruling party and the opposition must join forces to rack their brains for good ideas. It is time for the ruling party and the opposition to strike a united front to gather the capabilities of all Koreans.

We remember that at year-end President Kim expressed his understanding of alienated public opinion and regrets over the economic situation. We also remember that Lee, the president of the Grand National Party, demonstrated flexibility when he orchestrated his party''s unconditional participation in a National Assembly session and that he pledged "bipartisan cooperation." We believe that therein lies the key to the solution for mutual survival.

We hope Mr. Kim and Mr. Lee will stop the political tit-for-tat and give more thought to what is really good for the people and the nation.
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