[VIEWPOINT]Park needs to give up power to gain itThe intention was to put a woman to shame and to make her tremble with fear, then leave a scar on her face. The woman was supposed to give up running in the presidential election.
Park Geun-hye, the chairwoman of the Grand National Party, has broken down the terrorist’s intention. She has become stronger politically. She has a clearer understanding that the fate of her party is her own. If not, she might not have gone to Daejeon as soon as she left her hospital bed.
Suddenly, Ms. Park is punishing people who deserted the party. She has preferred to stare at betrayers rather than punish them until recently.
She saved the party that suffered a sweeping defeat in the 2004 general elections because of opposition to the party’s move to impeach the president. She also led the party to a legendary success, 23 wins in all 23 electoral districts, during the by-elections in 2005.
In the 2006 local elections, she has proven that whichever candidates she supported got the upper hand in the election races.
Thus, she has secured the authority and influence that former Grand National Party Chairman Lee Hoi-chang enjoyed.
Ms. Park lost her parents in tragic ways in her 20s. Those experiences led her to think of the meaning of life, rather than enjoying life as it is. Deep thinking makes a person wise.
Here are some of the phrases that reveal her wisdom: “They say that language exists so people can express their minds, but many people I meet conceal their minds.” “Conscience is the communications network that connects human beings to God. Many people cut off that communications channel and live like a vessel lost at sea.” “The human body is rewarded with exactly the same amount of rest whenever one overworked.” (Quotations from the journal of Park Geun-hye, “Bitters of Life as Friends and the Truth as a Beacon,” published in 1998.)
Through moral training, Ms. Park has continuously grown as a politician.
Still, there are obstacles that make it difficult for her to be the next president. They are not personal shortcomings, but rather strategic impediments.
The most basic is how to establish fair competition within the party. If the current structure is maintained until the 2007 presidential election, Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak will be the leading contenders.
The situation could be similar to the notorious rivalry of the two Kims, Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung, in the 1987 presidential election. Both Kims were defeated by Roh Tae-woo.
The more Ms. Park tries to monopolize power and influence within the party, the less Mr. Lee will be interested in competing with her in the party primary.
If they both take part in the party’s primary, one of them will come to power, but if they both compete in the presidential election and break the party, both of them will fail to hold power.
Thus, Ms. Park is being pressured by pro-GNP groups to reduce her power and influence in the party so Mr. Lee can participate in the party primary.
But will it be possible for a person with power to voluntarily reduce it?
It will be difficult, but possible if she adopts the following:
1) A strategic mind can concede present power in exchange for more power in the future.
2) A sophisticated program with which she can take back the power that she temporarily conceded.
3) Reliable human resources with which she can carry out such a plan.
Examples are abundant:
Kim Young-sam succumbed to the pressure of a three-party merger in 1990. Kim Dae-jung announced his retirement from politics in 1992. Then-presidential candidate Roh Moo-hyun agreed with Chung Mong-joon to unify their candidacies according to the result of an opinion poll in 2002.
More than anything else, in politics, the will for political power is the name of the game. Does Ms. Park have that strong will? Not yet.
For her, the top priority is honesty and her second priority is trust. A future-oriented strategic mind might be way down on her priority list.
Complicated programs that aim at grasping political power do not match with Ms. Park’s “tidy life.” Core members of her supporting group do not seem professional either.
Then what can we say? What could be the real impediment for Ms. Park pursuing and getting power? The answer would be her own mindset. Could she sacrifice the values she has thought important in order to hold power itself? That would be the question.
* The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chun Young-gi