[OUTLOOK]Only politicians need 'new' party

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[OUTLOOK]Only politicians need 'new' party

The recent talk about the Millennium Democrats creating a new party is both confusing and senseless. There are supporters and opponents of Roh Moo-hyun and those in between. There are those who call for partial reforms in the party, a clean-slate party and a completely separate party from the Millennium Democrats. What's what and who's who? Now, a shocking "confession" has come out from within the party that Mr. Roh's victory in the primary race was all according to a pre-laid scenario from the Blue House. In short, this party has gone too far and too low. What could possibly have happened to this party? Two major faults could be pointed out.

First, the manner of its attempt to distance itself from President Kim Dae-jung was wrong. The party had been so frantic running away from the unpopular president that it didn't consider just how it was going to run away. The "post-DJ" talks seem to have been going around forever and yet to the public, the party is the "DJ party." Had it done its running away properly, would it have crashed so badly in the local elections and the by-elections?

Changing the party name and bringing in new faces won't make this party a "post-DJ" party. If the Millennium Democrats are seriously bent on severing all ties with the president, they should be reflecting, repenting and reforming the traces of corruption, favoritism, imperialism and leadership disorder in the party for which President Kim is getting criticized. Had the party, for example, shown signs of repentance and admitted to its wrongdoing in the scandals of the president's sons, its own shady way of making personnel appointments and its trade-offs among legislators, had it rooted out the wrongdoers and the collaborators, it might successfully have shed its "DJ-ness." Only such a self-purification process could make new out of the old.

Yet, the same old faces are leading the Millennium Demo-cratic Party and some party figures still are being called "crown princes." How can it become a "post-DJ" party when it leaves all these "DJ elements" intact? The party shows typical narrowness of mind in deserting the now ailing president after having enjoyed all the prestige and power under his influence.

Another mistake the party is making is calling its proposal a "new" party when there isn't a single "new" thing about it. Any new cause, any glimmer of a new spirit, any significant new faces could have served. Yet the party is not even making the timeworn shallow attempts to appeal to the crowd, such as campaigns to promote frugality by driving smaller cars and trimming dining expenses. In fact, the "new" party is already proving itself to be "older" than the old party in some ways. Besides being a parade car for the presidential election, the new party seems totally useless for anything else.

When it is the central figures of the "DJ party" who are trying to break apart from the old party to form the new party, nothing more need be said. Those who are being discussed as potential presidential candidates for the new party are all faces that we've seen more times than we'd like to see. On the list is a certain figure whose reputation and political life so far has depended on his father's wealth and influence more than anything else, someone who never said "no" to those who were holding power at the time and shied away from giving straight advice when serving in a central post under President Kim, and a certain individual who has broken his promise 15 times to respect the results of the party's final decision on the presidential candidacy.

There will never cease to be talks about a new party as long as there are ambitious politicians who will never rest until they are chosen as the presidential candidate. Talks about a new party emerged essentially because surveys showed low support for the Millennium Democrats. So if surveys showed a low rate of support for this new party, wouldn't talks about a "new new party" emerge? Such doings are nothing but selfishness and political maneuvering without any genuine concern for the public interest or the welfare of the nation.

Even a hastily constructed sham business could be called a new party if it is done this way. But it would not survive for long. Not only will the public shun such a new party, the members themselves would not last long in their alliances, being all self-interested persons. Millennium Democrat legislator Chough Soon-hyung was right when he said the party could never succeed with "an irresponsible political statement that mocks the people." In the end, the party must walk the proper path and abide by the rules. It should not run away from the responsibilities of the actual ruling party. It should reform itself before trying to become something new.


The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Song Chin-hyok

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