[NOTEBOOK]Welcome change but explain whyThe winds of changing appearances are blowing suddenly in the political circles. President Roh Moo-hyun had double eyelid surgery and Grand National Chairwoman Park Geun-hye changed her hair style. President Roh shows more composure and confidence. Change in outward appearance seems to change feelings and character. Chairwoman Park looks younger and more active. It is likely to be helpful in her efforts to distance herself from recent embarrassing situation.
A cosmetics company had an ad that said “Women’s change is not guilty.” What is wrong with changing their appearances, whether women or men? But changes in political positions would be a different story. Although there is no rule that political stances should not be changed, there should be clear justification when a change is made.
Chairwoman Park’s charisma, which settled the situation in the Grand National Party that was split in the adverse wind of the presidential impeachment, had cast hope on the supporters of the party. But the recent situation in the party is shaking such beliefs.
Ms. Park might have many things to say. Lawmakers Lee Jae-oh and Kim Moon-soo, who have been politically aligned with Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak, recently took the lead in their opposition to the passage of the special act on the construction of a new administrative city. She may suspect that the recent incident was intended to shake the leadership of the party, aiming at the presidential election. But this incident was foreseen when the lawmakers staged a sit-in at the Legal Affairs Committee of the Assembly. Being prepared for and coping with the attack from opponents is the role of the leader. Once she becomes the president, she may be harassed with more frequent opposition and attacks. If she loses direction and focus due to these attacks from mere non-mainstream members within the party, it would not be easy to entrust state affairs to her.
Consistency and moral justification are the most important things. Chairwoman Park is on the defensive because she lost them. Regarding the administrative capital, the Grand National Party has changed its opinion many times. At the time of the presidential election, the party opposed the capital transfer, but with the legislative elections ahead, it turned around to support the transfer and passed the special bill. But then, the party turned again to oppose and applauded the court’s decision on the bill as unconstitutional. This time, the party changed its position again, but there is no clear explanation or justification. Even if she did not decide all these changes, it is her responsibility as a chairwoman of the party.
There is no need to speak of the past. Many things are also hard to understand in the passage of the special bill on the construction of a new administrative city. The transfer of the administrative capital was a sensitive matter to the point of being decided as unconstitutional. Opposition within the party is still under way. Reducing the number of ministries to be transferred to 12 does not mean that the issue became a different one.
They cannot say they followed the democratic process with the result of a mere 46 in favor to 37 against in the general meeting of lawmakers that should have been attended by 119 lawmakers.
If the party wants to change its opinion, it needs to have a process of letting its supporters know, persuading them why it changes its stance and what its justification is. It is hard to say that the party actually did this, if the situation is such that even Park Se-il, chairman of the party’s policy committee and close associate of Ms. Park, resigned from his party post and position of lawmaker. The Grand National Party may have tried to gain support from residents of Chuncheong provinces by compromising, but the attempt seems to be in vain with the defection of the mayor of Daejeon, Yeom Hong-cheol, from the party on March 8.
The process of settling the situation is more unsettling. Is it to admit the mistake of the passage of the bill that the party tries to conclude the incident with the resignation of Floor Leader Kim Duk-ryong? Chair-woman Park is asking lawmaker Park Se-il not to resign from his position as lawmaker. Who is then responsible for some party members’ remarks that aggravated the situation by criticizing lawmaker Park and saying, “Leave, if you want to?”
The party will end up in ruins if it has no competition and controversy. If it runs on a fixed rail, the party may repeat the same failure of its former Chairman Lee Hoi-chang. To Chairwoman Park, this situation could be a new opportunity. What is important is to go back to the basics with justification, which has been her strong point in the past.
* The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ibo.
by Kim Jin-kook