[EDITORIALS]Making friends, not foesPresident-elect Roh Moo-hyun met Saturday with floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties to discuss the future direction of state affairs. On Friday, he called the leader of the opposition Grand National Party to ask for cooperation in the upcoming National Assembly. The noticeable thing about the president-elect's latest moves is that they not only suggest a break in formalities but of a quality change in the relationship between the administrative and the legislative branches, and between the ruling and the opposition parties.
In stressing independence of political parties and the National Assembly, Mr. Roh believes that the Assembly should be the core machinery in governance. In addition, he iterated that "In critical foreign relations issues on which our national destiny may hinge, I will put the matter for discussion to the National Assembly and ask for bipartisan cooperation."
Mr. Roh reinforced his intention to respect the powers and the authority of the Assembly during his television program Saturday. He said, "I am going to be taking important policy issues directly to the floor to explain their initiatives and to exchange ideas with legislators." The president-elect's cooperative stance may well stem from the realization that the opposition party holds the absolute majority on the floor. But we hope he lives up to his words so that ill-effects of imperial presidencies of the past will not reappear.
Mr. Roh's promise given to the Grand National Party floor leader that he will try not to coax oppostion lawmakers to join the ruling party, and his pledge to thoroughly look into the allegations concerning the mysterious 400 billion won ($330 million) conveys a president-elect looking for, if not harmonious , then a working relationship with the opposition party and the Assembly. Not provoking a larger opposition and keeping open the channels of dialogue is a smart move for a president coming from a minority party. Indeed, it is a desirable stance for a president-elect to show empathy and a spirit of partnership to the opposition. By doing so, he can take the initiative in state affairs.
It is our desire to see the president-elect's political experiment work by sticking to his initial pledge. That will establish a political culture based on dialogue and compromise in Korea. Mr. Roh should avoid the precedent set by former presidents who distorted things and brought about confusion by getting excessively involved in political parties.