Try to appear neutralPresident Roh Moo-hyun has decided to secede from the Uri Party. We hope that after his departure, the management of state affairs will be free from political turbulence. We also hope the presidential election campaigns and the election are managed fairly.
However, judging by the remarks of the president and the Uri Party, it is likely that the president’s breakaway will fulfill people’s concerns and turn out to merely be for show.
President Roh criticized the practice by previous presidents of leaving their parties late in their terms as a structural problem and an inappropriate political custom. As for his predecessors, the opposition parties asked them to leave their parties in a bid to prevent them from intervening in election campaigns and misusing their power. President Roh had to follow this step because the people became suspicious as to whether he was determined to remain politically neutral for the election because he was arguing for a constitutional amendment in his last year in office.
If the president decided to leave his party in order to manage the country and the election in a fair manner, he should create a neutral cabinet first.
But he will send only Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook to the Uri Party and keep the other politicians-turned-ministers in their positions.
Health and Welfare Minister Rhyu Si-min reported that he will not leave the party. Yoon Seung-yong, the Blue House spokesman, said that filling the government bodies related to the election with neutral figures is enough. That is not persuasive.
Meanwhile, among the seven special assistants to the president, four, including the former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, are Uri members.
Even when announcing his plan to leave the party, President Roh wished the party success and its leaders promised to provide support. They made a fuss about the president leaving so no one would become suspicious about their hidden intentions.
It is the Uri Party, not the Grand National Party, that asked the president to leave. It is a shallow tactic to escape the responsibility for his failure in managing the country and to fool the people for the election.
Whether the president decided to bolt from the party in a bid to produce a successor from the Uri Party or due to genuine good intentions will be judged by his behavior.
But at the very least he should be neutral for the election after making such a fuss.
That’s the least he can do for the people.