No winners in tug of warFour opposition parties - the Democratic, Democratic Labor, Creative Korea and New Jinbo - have agreed to submit a bill to the National Assembly calling for the dismissal of Prime Minister Chung Un-chan. Another minor opposition group, the Liberty Forward Party, also expressed its intention of joining the effort.
The opposition parties are seeking ways to get the pro-Park Geun-hye faction inside the Grand National Party to back their cause. Keep in mind that pro-Park lawmakers have come out against the government’s revision of the Sejong City project. The dismissal bill needs the support of at least half of the National Assembly’s members - or 149 votes - to pass. Considering that 128 of the assembly’s seats are occupied by opposition party members and independent lawmakers, Chung could lose his post if an estimated 50 to 60 pro-Park lawmakers vote in favor of the bill.
In the past, political interests have been at the root of cabinet ministers’ dismissals.
In 2001, the National Assembly passed a bill presented by the United Liberal Democrats to dismiss then-Unification Minister Lim Dong-won ahead of the general election. The ULP focused its criticism by attacking President Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy toward North Korea.
Decades earlier, the assembly passed a bill to dismiss Internal Minister Oh Chi-seong. The bill was backed by Republican Party members who supported the idea of adopting a cabinet system of government and were against President Park Chung Hee. Both cases resulted in chaos.
Prime Minister Chung shares the blame for the dismissal bill. His recent controversial, extreme remarks irritated the opposition camp.
Taking everything into account, it’s hard to determine definitively whether proposing a bill to dismiss Chung is the right solution at this time. The government has many important matters to attend to when it comes to state affairs, and this could serve as an unneeded distraction.
If the opposition parties really focus in on trying to oust Chung from office, the Sejong City project will likely go up in smoke. The opposition parties could also face public backlash if Chung is indeed dismissed. Now is the time to engage in serious debate over Sejong City rather than wage a political tug of war.