[Viewpoint]Three politicians to trustIf we can classify everything in the world into good and evil, we wouldn’t have to spend much time making judgments.
However, reality is not that simple. Sometimes, good collides with good, or good and evil coexist. That’s where the agony begins. What if someone I dislike agrees with me and someone I like argues against my opinion? What about a politician with a good reputation who advocates a completely different stand? We often find ourselves in a dilemma when we face the moment of decision.
That’s why it is not easy to pass judgment about the integration of the former Uri Party.
Of course, it is never right to dissolve the party and reorganize it just before the election after having enjoyed all the perks of being the ruling party. The citizens have no way to express their judgment on how well the party did, because it is not responsible enough to stand up and face the voters.
However, it is also too much to ask the party to wait for the voters’ judgment when it could collapse at any time.
The ruling party politicians are looking to integrate as a way to survive. What they hope to accomplish is to bring together all of their forces to keep the Grand National Party from taking power.
The Democratic Party wants to stand by their political line, attacking the champions of the grand integration that have brought together heterogeneous politicians, saying it will take Korean politics backward by a decade.
Curiously, the key figures on both sides are something quite rare today: respectable and capable politicians.
The major link of the grand integration supporters is lawmaker Kim Geun-tae. Democratic Party leader Park Sang-cheon and lawmaker Chough Soon-hyung are at the center of the Democratic Party-oriented integration. These politicians are known for their exceptional sincerity, honesty and reason.
Marking the 27th anniversary this year of the May 18 Democratic Movement, top presidential hopefuls of the more liberal party gathered in Gwangju. The civil group leaders asked former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook to become “The Sister of May” [democratic movement] and help unify the democratic faction.
When it was Mr. Kim’s turn to speak, he said, “I will become the Brother of May.” Not long after that comment, he announced he would not run for president and vowed to become a catalyst for the grand integration.
This is when the stalled discussions about the integration started to speed up. Kim does not play golf and is not known to enjoy expensive meals.
Chough is the epitome of a man of sincerity. He has never missed a National Assembly session and is the most frequent visitor among lawmakers to the National Assembly library. Of course, he does not drink or play golf. When he was the leader of the Democratic Party, he hardly made dinner appointments and went home around 7 p.m. He has always been an exemplary student.
Former President Kim Dae-jung and President Roh Moo-hyun could not escape his criticism. Chough will criticize anyone who deserves it. He had been the chairman of the election campaign committee for President Roh, but right before the inauguration, he pointed out Roh’s lack of self-control, saying, “The biggest obstacle to the Roh administration is the president-elect himself.”
He does not have a legal background, but he was the first politician to raise the unconstitutionality of the appointment of Jun Hyo-suk as president of the Constitutional Court.
Park Sang-cheon is a man of logic. When he was serving as the minister of justice, granting a pardon to Kim Hyun-chul, the son of former President Kim Young-sam, became an issue. He stood by his principles and opposed the pardon.
As a spokesman of the opposition party, he was the only one to match the Grand National Party’s Park Hee-tae, who is recognized as the best in Korea’s political history. These politicians are sincere and serious about everything, but sometimes lack flexibility.
In today’s political world, they are a rare breed. What they say can be trusted. And they are divided into the grand integration- and the Democratic Party-oriented integration. They are all equally sincere, but Kim values ideology, Park stands by principle and Chough believes in rationality. As an advocate of the grand integration, Kim is more realistic and has a sentimental edge. Chough and Park have more justification and better logic.
With the presidential election this year and the general election next year, Kim’s plan might be more tempting, but in terms of political development, Chough and Park’s proposal is far more persuasive.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Du-woo