&#91EDITORIALS&#93Political reform first

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[EDITORIALS]Political reform first

Korea’s politics has long been evaluated to be at a poor level -- third rate. It is tainted with corruption from top to bottom, and seedy behavior, such as factionalism and slander campaigns, has spawned distrust among voters. This was the reason President Roh Moo-hyun targeted politics first in his reform drive. The will for political reform, however, has disappeared since the inauguration of the new government. Instead, we hear more about a new press-briefing system and of the media’s misuse of its influence. There is something wrong with the order of the day.
Mr. Roh asked both the ruling and opposition parties to promote political reform. He put forward proposals on how to break regional dominance of political parties, how to improve political fund management and how to restructure political parties. Among his proposals was a campaign pledge that he would hand over the power of appointing cabinet members to the party or political coalition that wins the majority of seats in the legislature. He seeks to revise the election law so that no single party can sweep all the seats in a region. Apparently there is a will to reform the political structure of Korea. Both the ruling and opposition parties should discuss how to reform Korea’s politics.
To accomplish political reform, the president should make clear that he will give it top priority among all state affairs. He should lead the political reform himself while demanding the same of both parties. He can, then, control politicians belonging to both parties who want to hold on to their vested interests and gain momentum to promote reform.
Mr. Roh must win the confidence of politicians on political reform. If the opposition suspects his proposal is a scheme aimed at winning next year’s general election, he will encounter difficulty materializing reform. Even some ruling party members are suspicious of Mr. Roh’s plan because of rumors Mr. Roh’s supporters will form a new party. Under such circumstances, it will only increase suspicions about an arbitrary realignment of the political parties. It will be difficult to persuade the opposition to negotiate. In order not to hear that politics dragged back national development, political reform should take precedence over all others.
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