Quit bickeringThe recent chaos at the National Assembly has revealed that the differences between the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye factions within their party present a serious obstacle to the national administration. President Lee and his charges have pushed for a quick introduction of bills on media industry reform and on economic and social reforms. But the Park faction did not agree. On Monday, Park, the former chairwoman of the Grand National Party, publicly criticized the party’s handling of the bills. The party suddenly weakened and had to compromise the next day.
If struggles between factions within the same political party didn’t have any impact on the public, we wouldn’t be talking about Lee and Park. But the Grand National Party happens to be the ruling party in this nation. The people voted for this party in the presidential election and also in the general elections because they had grown frustrated with 10 years of liberal government and wanted to see reforms in politics, the economy and the media.
To do that, a majority of the 172 GNP lawmakers should have come together in unity. However, whereas members of the opposition Democratic Party literally tied themselves together with rope, GNP members went their separate ways in the face of opposition.
At the root of the friction is a feud between Lee and Park. During the presidential election, Lee received a great deal of help from Park and pledged that she would get her due. But that hasn’t happened yet.
This meant that the pro-Park faction felt betrayed in the nomination process prior to the general elections. Lee met with Park in May, following the elections, but they failed to narrow their differences.
Since then, Park has dropped away from the party line. Last summer, with the U.S. beef controversy in full gear, she criticized the government and appeared to side with the protesters. This time, after staying quiet at first, Park has attacked her own party.
An important leader like Park must not assume the role of a critic. But it is President Lee who caused this problem in the first place.
In contrast, Barack Obama, the U.S. president-elect, nominated his former rival, Hillary Clinton, as his secretary of state.
Today, Park wields significant power within the ruling party. President Lee must acknowledge this and embrace her and her faction, not for their personal goodwill, but for the good of the nation and the reforms that need to be enacted.