Resolving the Sejong issueThe Sejong City controversy has seen a turning point. The pro-Lee Myung-bak faction is pushing to hold party-wide debates to vote whether to approve the new bill the government proposes to design the city as a corporate and science and technology-oriented municipality.
The rival pro-Park Geun-hye faction opposes participation in the vote, arguing a debate is meaningless when the conclusion has already been reached. Since the legislation to create a planned Sejong City was approved at the National Assembly in March 2005, the conservative Grand National Party has advocated the relocation of a number of ministries and government agencies as it agreed to with the opposition party. But the government overturned the decision and proposed a new design for the city. The government will submit the bill requesting the revision to the National Assembly in early March.
The ruling party must take a new position on such a grave state matter. It must open the floor to listen to the government’s logic and reasons as well as the details of the revised plan to reach upon a new party platform. Under party regulations, the party must debate and vote on any changes in the platform. The party should abide by the regulations and open a party-wide assembly to discuss and vote on the new agenda.
The mainstream faction should gain and build support from the opposing faction through a democratic process. It must not wield the majority power to twist the arms of its opposing members. It also must humbly accept the vote result even if it turns out in a defeat. At the same time, it should not force the opposing members to accept the majority approval. In the assembly vote in February 2005, the Sejong City bill was narrowly approved with 46 votes for approval against 37 on the other side. But the result in the general assembly vote was different. The party also defined the vote result as a recommended policy line. Regardless of the overall party position, party regulations allow each member the freedom to vote on their own conviction.
The GNP should present itself as the responsible ruling party in deciding its new position on Sejong as it can serve as a preliminary vote ahead of the broader assembly vote. All members, whether they are in support or opposed, should stand proudly behind history and the people. Everyone should follow the procedure, act on their convictions and take responsibility for their actions. President Lee and former party leader Park will be meeting to discuss “fair” procedure. Even if they fail to resolve their differences, they must discuss and agree on ways to guarantee a fair vote. The Sejong City problem should be set on track for a debate, a party vote and then a parliamentary vote.