Park’s role in the Sejong plan

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Park’s role in the Sejong plan

Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the ruling Grand National Party, has declared her support for a contentious decentralization plan that would move a host of government offices to South Chungcheong. In reiterating her support for the project, she said, “If such a huge promise collapses, what other promises can the Grand National Party make to the Korean people? It’s a matter of the party’s existence.”

She also stated her opposition to any modification of the plan, such as cutbacks in the number of ministries to be relocated, and said that supplementary steps should be added to the original plan if necessary.

Her comments, which run contrary to the desires of the president and his administration, will likely cause more than a few ripples. Park has more than 60 supporters within the ruling party, which could make revision of the law difficult. We are loath to think about where the controversy over the Sejong project could lead the country.

Park, who as the leader of the GNP had signed off on the Sejong relocation bill in 2005, is somewhat justified in emphasizing the party’s duty to keep its promise to the people. Even before Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, then a nominee for the post, ignited the Sejong dispute by underscoring the risks of the plan, Park had stressed in July that the Sejong City project should proceed as planned.

But we have to urge her to stop and think about whether this is a promise that, if kept, will be in the country’s best interest. We ask her to consider whether moving and scattering several government offices will really benefit the country. The problem is by no means one that only involves the party. It will have an effect on the country as a whole.

The Sejong City plan was born as a political quid pro quo, and if pushed as initially planned there is no doubt that a massive amount of government resources and taxpayer money will be squandered. We cannot proceed with the original plan, yet we cannot completely backtrack either. Politicians must quickly emerge from their current deadlock and find a solution that will benefit not only Chungcheong but the rest of the country as well.

In 2004, Park showed her courage when she apologized for compromising with the then-ruling Democratic Party to pass the bill on the relocation plan. We hope she will again show her ability to rise above politics and her own personal beliefs for the good of the country. Meanwhile, the president and his administration must act fast to present a plan that everyone can understand and support.

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