[EDITORIALS]Retire gracefullyIt appears as if some incumbent legislators of the Grand National Party will voluntarily retire from politics. Whatever their motives, it is welcome to see that they are paving the way for political reform by conforming to the desires of people who are fed up with the existing political establishment. This kind of movement should continue.
The Grand National Party took advantage of anti-Kim Dae-jung sentiment in the Gyeongsang provinces in the last legislative elections and incumbents in their third or fourth terms ran for office again. Many of them were figures from the days of Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo, so the party was not able to shake off the image of a conservative, corrupt and elderly party. That was part of the reason for their losses in the last two presidential elections. It is hard to see change and innovation happening in a party that upholds vested interests of long-term incumbent assemblymen.
The reform of politics has long been the demand of the people and a sign of the times. That is not to say that all long-term incumbents should retire. A smooth replacement of generations should come from rational standards that everyone can accept. Still, there are a few incumbents who object to dropping out because they claim they won’t go if they are pushed forcibly. It is reasonable to retire voluntarily based on one’s desire to start a new chapter in politics and open new roads for a rising generation of politicians. Speaker Park Kwan-yong, Kim Yong-hwan and Kang Sam-jae have already declared their intention of retiring.
It is embarrassing to see that many incumbents are objecting by demanding a constitutional amendment to the decentralized presidential system. The people can see right through their hidden motives. Voluntary retirement is a way to save oneself and one’s party. Choe Byung-yul has already declared an all-out reform of the party. The Grand National Party must create an environment conducive to the retirement of these incumbents. It must allow them to graceful exit from politics. That way, it will have a far-reaching effect on politics.