President must take the leadPrime Minister Han Seung-soo last Friday voiced concerns and offered advice over the frustrating standoff between politicians who have left an array of much-needed government policies up in the air.
To resolve the current confusion, we need a stronger push from a higher place. The president should come forward, seek out where the problems lie and deal with the problems.
Discord lurks in the administration as well as between the government and the ruling party.
Differences in Lee’s government are being fueled over a decision to take full membership in the Proliferation Security Initiative in order to adopt a tougher stance over North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction and over subsidizing the staggering local automobile industry.
The government is also often off-key with the ruling party. Last month, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the ruling Grand National Party announced that they were considering whether or not to ease taxes on capital gains from property sales in order to help troubled companies raise funds more easily.
But the bill is stuck in a deadlock with the ruling party, which claims it has been critical of the tax move from the beginning, while the government retorts that the plan was agreed at last month’s meeting.
What’s more, the ruling party-government consultation channel has been derailed due to a change in the political environment. Democratic progress has weakened the president’s authority while strengthening that of the lawmakers.
The president no longer wields absolute power over the ruling party, and money and power are less of a temptation to win over lawmakers. Gone are the days when the government can expect full cooperation from the ruling party, purely relying on the president’s patronage.
GNP members do not hide their complaints about the president and his administration over their lack of understanding and respect. They say government officials are no different from the old days, thrusting out bills for approval without any clear explanation.
Ruling party or not, lawmakers need to be persuaded and convinced, not disciplined or bullied if the government wants their support.
The president should be the first to alter his view on the ruling party. He cannot force anything. The party is an independent part of the Constitution. All government officials must work harder to campaign for their policies.
The President must do the work himself on important issues. The climate has changed in politics, and it’s a pity that the president doesn’t seem to see this.