[OUTLOOK]Getting the GNP back in order“Honestly speaking, I have never seen such an old and decadent party as ours anywhere in the world. There is no soul, no discipline and no standard of what’s wrong or right. Such a party should have crumbled and been swept away a long time ago.”
These words were not referring to a Korean political party of today. They were spoken by Chiang Kai-shek in January 1948, one year before he fled to Taiwan from the mainland after being defeated by the Communist Party. It is amazing that no less a figure than Chiang, the leader of the Kuomintang, spoke those words.
When the Kuomintang, which was thought to have the edge over the Communist Party, lost repeatedly in the war from 1947 to 1949 to determine China’s political future, Chiang lamented thus:
“In every way, we are overwhelmingly superior. Our armament, our fighting techniques and experience make the Communist Party incomparable to us. We have ten times as many provisions, fodder and ammunition. We have all the necessary conditions for victory and yet we are continuously losing. Why is this so?”
Chiang Kai-shek analyzed the reasons for his side’s defeat. “The corruption within the Kuomintang, ever since the fight for independence against Japan until this day, is astonishing. It is beyond imagination.
The minds of the party leaders have long rotted and fallen apart and there is no word to describe the state of their morality but ‘vulgar.’”
As Lloyd Eastman concluded in his book about the Chinese statesman, it was not the Communist Party that defeated the Kuomintang but the Kuomintang that brought itself down.
After being defeated in January 1949, Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan. After a few months’ period of retirement, he set about reforming his party. However, by then, mainland China was already in the hands of the Communist Party.
Park Geun-hye, the new chairwoman of the Grand National Party, finds herself in a similar position as that Chiang Kai-shek in mainland China a half a century ago. Ms. Park also knows what her party’s problem is, as Chiang Kai-shek knew what was wrong with his. But knowing that a problem exists is different than solving it. The problem must be approached practically and rooted out. It is not enough that the party leader understands that there is a problem with his or her party.
The party must change in actuality, and this change must be from deep within, not just a change on the surface.
Pitching a new tent will not absolve the Grand Nationals from their image as a party that received bribes by the truckload. We’ve heard enough theoretical stories about how it will steer clear of corruption, abolish regional strife and become a party based on policies. But there are still traces of corruption lingering within the Grand National Party and certain forces within the party are still trying to pander to regional sentiments.
The party has yet to present any distinctive policies. Frankly, it is hard to put one’s faith in the party.
It seems that Ms. Park’s valiant aspirations to ride through the tumultuous waves with the grim resolution of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, who faced a fleet of Japanese invaders in the late 16th century with only 12 remaining ships, will not be enough to get the Grand National Party through the storm raised by the impeachment.
If the Grand National Party is really to change, it must look far ahead. It must open its eyes to the changing world. It must boldly shed the perceptions and thinking it has been comfortable with for a long time.
It must hold on to its principles but learn to become more flexible in accepting new paradigms as well. It must walk in simplicity and honesty. That is how it would prove its worthiness.
Just as today’s ugly image of the Grand National Party was not created overnight, so positive changes will take some time to be seen.
In the hope that the Grand National Party will continue a simple and honest struggle to change for good, I present a bit of poetry to Park Geun-hye.
“People say that flowers bloom in one morning and that stars light the sky in a blink of the eye. They say that a man changes easily and that he can fall from glory in one morning. But neither flowers, neither stars nor man changes so easily in one morning... We only carry on, little by little, with persistent love, doing steady small things.”
Again, I hope to see a real change in the Grand National Party.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong