Trickery and Coverups Help No OneRelations between the ruling camp and the opposition party have gotten off to a bad start this year. Far from producing any sort of agreement on how the two major parties can cooperate, Thursday''s meeting between President Kim Dae-jung and Lee Hoi-chang, the president of the Grand National Party, degenerated into a disappointing exchange of mutual fault-finding. This result signals that the political situation is likely to get worse.
As the ruling camp has pointed out, some of Mr. Lee''s assertions and demands are unreasonable. There is nothing wrong with a minority ruling party''s forming coalitions or even merging with another party in order to increase its power base. Using such tricky methods as "lending" Assembly members to another party deserves criticism, but the opposition party has no right to tell the Millennium Democrats and the United Liberal Democrats that they may or may not form an alliance.
The more fundamental problem, however, seems to be President Kim''s poor grasp of political reality and his way of dealing with it. He blames the lack of progress in reform and restructuring all on the GNP. The opposition''s participation in these processes has been somewhat uneven, but the fact remains that two bills to create public funds and other legislation for restructuring have passed the National Assembly with the approval of the GNP. Action to repeal or amend the National Security Law, which various civic groups are calling for, has been delayed not because of the GNP but because of the ruling camp''s "partner," the ULD. The biggest reason for mistakes and delays in restructuring is the government''s failure to properly supervise the allocation and implementation of the huge amount of public funds it poured into the economy. The government was too quick to congratulate itself when economic recovery appeared to be well underway; it used restructuring as an excuse to fill important positions by patronage and caused financial irregularities while supporting the information technology industry. Then the government lost credibility by giving the impression that it was trying to cover up these mistakes during investigations.
In order to break out of the power crisis it has brought down upon itself, the administration and the MDP have set their sights on gaining a majority in the Assembly to wield more power. This tack can only be seen as reflecting a lack of understanding of the situation or an attempt to hide their responsibility for failings. Kim Joong-kwon, the chairman of the MDP, asserted that switching party affiliations by three Assemblyman was unavoidable and then even dared to raise absurd suspicions that the president of the opposition party was involved in directing National Security Planning Agency funds into his party''s campaign. Is he hoping to prevent the current government from becoming a lame-duck administration before its time? Or is he trying to lay the groundwork for the ruling party to hold on to power after the next election? Whatever the case is, the ruling party''s current path does not look like the high road to make the party as well as the government strong and sound. It is using excessive means that may lead the political circle into a vicious circle of turmoil.
The strength of a government is not in the number of seats its party controls in the National Assembly or in the authority of the Public Prosecutor''s Office. It depends on public support. For the sake of the nation, we urge President Kim and the MDP to adopt a more tolerant, flexible approach to the current political situation.
by Noh Jae-hyun