Don’t waste Sejong ideasThe Grand National Party yesterday wrapped up an unprecedented week-long, in-house debate on rewriting the 2005 legislation on Sejong City. Supporters of President Lee Myung-bak and of former GNP chairwoman Park Geun-hye stuck to their scripts, reciting tired arguments to each other on whether to revise or adhere to the original plan. Lawmakers’ loyalties to their factions were strong as ever.
Coincidentally, American political leaders also had an all-day televised debate on a contentious and compelling domestic issue - health care reform - on Thursday.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden sat down in front of TV cameras for nearly seven hours with 38 Congressional leaders from both the Democratic and Republican sides, including the president’s 2008 election rival Senator John McCain, to talk over the government’s proposal to revamp the nation’s hugely costly and deficit-ridden health care system.
They failed to find common ground, but still both sides traded heated and no-nonsense comments on the key issues and questions of disparity, such as the dual burden on the already insured public, and the cost of the fiscal deficit.
The GNP discussion couldn’t be called a debate like the American forum, with the principal figures backing a new proposal - the president - and his main adversary Park both absent from the talks. Still, the GNP does get points for being the first ruling party ever to stage marathon debate to iron out differences over a key policy issue. The discussion is a baby step in democratic policy making, with the party attempting to break the ice on an intricate issue through public conversation. The discussion generated ideas on how to find common ground, such as sending seven non-administrative organs to Sejong on top of the government’s plan to create a business and research-oriented city, or scaling down the number of government agencies to relocate there.
Executive and senior party members plan to put forward their own proposal in hopes of resolving the in-house conflict before the National Assembly at large votes on the government’s proposal. This new option is likely to incorporate the positions and ideas lawmakers contributed during the week of debate. They must listen to the voices of their members and come up with an inclusive and feasible plan. It is important to keep up the momentum of trying to untangle the problem and find a solution through conversation. When senior party members present a thoroughly considered Plan B, it will be difficult for President Lee and Park to ignore. That’s when the two leaders should meet and close the matter once and for all.