[FORUM]The party that can’t reformAn opposition party in any country is generally associated with the concept of a party with fewer seats in the legislature or one much smaller than the ruling party. If foreigners know that our country has an opposition party called the Grand National Party with 149 seats, 12 seats more than the majority of representatives, they may mistakenly think, “The party must be pretty popular.” In fact, because it is not the case, the existence of the Grand National Party is a mystery. Although political experts suggest a list of numerous reasons to explain the circumstances, I often think, “How on earth can we call it a bigger opposition party? It is just a minor party, which cannot lead the nation.”
Allegations and suspicions surrounding aides to President Roh Moo-hyun or ubiquitous criticism of bumbling administration seldom affect support for the opposition party. In an opinion poll, even people older than 50, strong supporters of the Grand National Party, responded that they would vote for President Roh in the proposed referendum. Seeing the results of the poll, I feel confused and wonder if that opposition party has any vision.
Even after its second successive failure in the presidential election, there is no sign of change in the Grand National Party. The complicated situation within the party is its own business. Although the present administration fumbles, the Grand National Party cannot emerge as an alternative force. In a proper democratic country, if the ruling party fails, the opposition party would try to do well and wait for the people’s choice. Showing no sign of self-reflection and just crouching down in wait, the opposition party appears trivial in the people’s eyes. The Korean people seem to have no blessings.
Seen from our long history, we have always led optimistic lives. The people have led politics and the economy has enhanced politics. Even in hardship, our national strength has continuously expanded. But the deals of black money between politics and business have become a stumbling block to our development.
President Roh could win the presidential election last year thanks to the expectations that he would cut the chains of corruption between government and business. But the ruling party “lost its mind due to the rushing waves of power and money after the election” to annoy us.
What is the Grand National Party, which advocated the eli-mination of corruption as a pledge for its presidential campaign? It should no longer shield its member, Choi Don-woong, who is suspected of receiving 10 billion won ($8.5 million) from SK Group. Its representative, Lee Jae-o, was quite right in asserting that not until the party is cleared of the suspicions of corruption and appeals to the people nakedly can the party gain support to be an alternative force.
If Representative Lee, a former floor leader and member of the planning team for the presidential election, first exposes himself as he is and other opposition representatives wrapped in rumors follow his steps, the opposition party may be able to wage a fight against the present administration. To do so, the Grand National Party should not be afraid of exposing the true entity of borrowed name bank accounts widespread in political circles. I hope the party will show its true character as an upright political party by shedding the suspicions of laundering money through the accounts of the Agency for National Security Planning (as the National Intelligence Service was once called) and making good on its campaign pledge to introduce a real-name system for political funds.
The secret funds of the former presidents Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo were hidden in borrowed-name accounts, and the secret funds connected to the sons of the the former presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung and their aides also found shelter in borrowed-name accounts. There are many barriers under the current real-name financial transaction law to uncover the identity of the many rumored accounts in borrowed names, through which the power holders at the Blue House and major politicians from the ruling and opposition parties make secret transactions. If the audit and inspection agency strengthens its authority to investigate in order to regulate borrowed name accounts, the opposition party will howl that it is being persecuted. If the Grand National Party truly means to ask for judgement from the people as it is, isn’t that the surest way to be assessed as an alternative force to the “immoral and incapable” present government? If it wants to remain another powerless party without such a resolution, let it go its own way.
* The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Choi Chul-joo