[EDITORIALS]Steering the best course

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[EDITORIALS]Steering the best course

"Roh Moo-hyun's victory does not mean that the Millennium Democratic Party is back in power again." This significant message was sent out by the reformist group within the party, including the legislators Chough Soon-hyung, Chung Dong-young and Chun Jung-bae, who were the most active in helping Mr. Roh achieve his victory. The message was followed by the self-acclaim that the result of this election had been a victory by the people who demanded to have the old politics of the Grand National Party and the Millennium Democratic Party swept away.

The era of Roh Moo-hyun has some common elements with the Kim Dae-jung administration, such as the continuation of Mr. Kim's policies, the succession of his supporters and connections, and the sharing of similar sentiments. Nevertheless, the reformists have refused to describe Roh Moo-hyun's victory as a re-creation of the MDP rule and have tried to detach themselves from their own party, which they included as part of the old politics. Roh Moo-hyun's era will be unique and different, they say. This foretells a whirlwind of change and reform within the MDP.

The reformist legislators have proposed a "constructive dismantling" of the party, a claim that was inevitable considering the change of times and from a point of practicality. The reformists are all too aware that in this election, holders of vested interest lost because of their insensitivity to the times, and Mr. Roh won because he offered a new kind of politics. During the election campaign, Mr. Roh took great pains to separate himself from his own party and his strategy worked. The peoples' perspective is that the MDP is DJ's party, or a party led by President Kim and his cronies, often described as the Donggyo-dong faction, and associated with corruption, favoritism, opportunism and chaotic policies. It is only natural that Mr. Roh would want to say good-bye to a party with such an unfavorable and scarred image, and to draw up his own era. An endless effort to be seen as standing on the right side of political reform is needed if only to overcome the situation of being the minority party at present.

Talks about dismantling the MDP reinforce the prospect that Mr. Roh's reforms will spread fast into other areas of society, after politics. This is why the GNP remains tense. What is heightening the sense of urgency is that the reformists seem to be expressing Mr. Roh's personal opinions.

"Those responsible for corruption and misrule during the Kim Dae-jung administration must be made accountable for their mistakes, and the opportunist politicians must be strictly judged." The reformists seem to echo Mr. Roh's campaign promises. The reform of the MDP will be a crucial political experiment and a test case of how Mr. Roh will fare as president.

The first demand of the reformists is for the party leadership be changed, with the retirement of Donggyo-dong faction and the banishment of migratory politicians who had shown signs of bolting when the ship was thought to be sinking. Having won the legitimacy offered by the times does not give them the right to slash all old faces, a move that could be seen as making room for new power-crazy politicians. This should not become a roundabout tactic to strike at the GNP. The politics of conversation and reconciliation will not be possible if that occurs. The pains of change are inevitable when a politics faithful to the spirit of a new era is about to be created. But shortcuts and cheating should be strictly denounced in the process.
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