[VIEWPOINT]Roh, Uri should cut ties now, not laterAll unions eventually end . Friends who pledge to share the same fate in life or in death and lovers who promise eternal love are no exception. Neither are husbands and wives who pledge to live together until their hair turns gray. Parents learn to let go and children leave home.
People experience mental conflict as they get disappointed and hurt by the words and deeds of their partner. Sometimes they separate from each other.
At a certain stage, they may come to understand their partners and give up some of their expectations; they may get closer again, but people tend to repeat the process of uniting and separating, going in circles.
In psychology, this process is described as human relations coming to maturity.
How are the relations between the president and the governing Uri Party?
In Korean politics, governing parties have often been a legacy of presidents.
The Democratic Republican Party, the Democratic Justice Party, the Democratic Liberal Party, the New Korea Party, People’s Congress for New Politics, the Millennium Democratic Party and the Uri Party, the latest, have all been established by former presidents.
However, in a disconcerting pattern at the end of their term, these past presidents ended up abandoned by the parties they established.
Former President Roh Tae-woo was edged out by his successor, Kim Young-sam; Mr. Kim was pushed out of the New Korea Party by Lee Hoi-chang, then the party’s presidential candidate, and former president Kim Dae-jung had to bolt from the ruling party because of criticism within the party.
It is not likely that the vicious cycle will spare President Roh Moo-hyun.
Around 5 p.m. on June 29, members of the emergency committee of the Uri Party held a meeting that was kept secret from journalists.
There was uproar at that meeting, it was revealed later. The meeting lasted about one- and-a-half-hours, and was held before the new leadership of the party met President Roh for dinner at the Blue House.
Hearing from National Assembly representative Moon Hee-sang, who coordinated the agenda of the meeting with Blue House officials, about the position of the president on pending issues, some committee members reacted strongly, saying, “If there is no change in the president’s position, there is no reason for us to attend the meeting.”
The reason they revolted against the Blue House was that the new party leadership and the president were to meet for the first time since their crushing defeat in the May 31 local elections, and the party would be left with nothing to stand on if the leaders at the meeting did not have an attitude of acceptance of the public’s opinion.
Under that situation, an appointment with the president could have been broken for the first time in history.
The last tug-of-war happened on the bus transporting the party leaders on their way to the Blue House.
After going through such twists and turns, the president said these remarks: “It is better to coordinate, from a view other than speculation, between the party and the government on matters related to housing units worth less than 600 million won [$630,000], so that taxes will not be a burden to poorer people.
Since the real estate tax is not related to government policies designed to root out speculation, it can be handled through discussion between the party and the government.”
More than one person who participated said “the atmosphere of the meeting was tense throughout.”
However, the spokesman of the governing party, Woo Sang-ho, told convenient lies to the press: “The atmosphere was harmonious throughout. From the attitude of President Roh, one could feel his deep affection for the party.”
President Roh’s pledge, “Let’s have better communications among the party, the government and the Blue House,” was broken the day after the meeting marking the appointment of Kim Byung-joon, former Blue House policy chief, as deputy prime minister of education and human resources.
Although there was strong opposition among their members, Kim Geun-tae, party chairman, managed to keep the party in order.
Why did such discord take place? It is because they think it is not yet an appropriate time to separate.
Mr. Roh and the Uri Party are in the process of accumulating justifications to separate.
Both sides worry about the side effects of being the first to say anything.
Mr. Roh established the governing Uri Party and made it possible for Uri Party lawmakers to be elected almost effortlessly by creating a political wind of vendetta against the opposition’s move to impeach the president.
The governing party lawmakers now worry whether they will be labeled “traitors” if they demand that Mr. Roh “leave the party” because his approval rating has crashed.
The relations between Mr. Roh and the governing party are like those between parents and children.
Parents want their children to remain under their care as long as possible and cherish their memories of the past, but children should stand on their own one day.
Mr. Roh may expect the governing party to follow his will faithfully, but the party desperately needs to gain enough votes at the 2007 presidential election and the legislative elections in 2008. If they should be separated, it is proper to prepare a separation without flaw, and swiftly.
While the president and the governing party are accumulating justifications for separation, the will of the people is neglected and the government’s policies are in tatters.
The Uri party can survive in the next administration only if it can stand on its own without relying on the president.
Mr. Roh must sever all lingering attachment to the governing party and explore ways to serve out his remaining term by cooperating with the opposition.
If you don’t send off a child at the right time, you will not only ruin your life, but also the future of your child.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Du-woo