Support the Sejong councilThe Grand National Party formed a six-member senior council to find a consensus between the factions debating the Sejong City legislation. The 11th-hour effort comes as the two incompatible factions within the ruling party near a head-on collision related to the row over a government-proposed bill to replace the 2005 legislation defining the new city as a multifunctional administrative municipality.
The party debated for a week on the pros and cons of the government proposal, which would turn the city into a high-tech corporate hub rather than moving most government offices as proposed in the original legislation. But they failed to reach any conclusion. A summit between the leaders of the two rival factions - President Lee Myung-bak and former GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye - also looks improbable at this stage. The council of six senior lawmakers - with equal representation for the president, Park and a neutral faction - is the party’s last chance to hammer out a consensus ahead of the National Assembly vote on the revised bill.
The council’s mission is not completely without hope. Its members may somehow find a solution to the problem. The president’s office, instead of seeking a referendum to bypass recalcitrant lawmakers, must respect the consensus reached by the party and the National Assembly vote. No matter how frustrating the process may be, the president must display faith in the party and the legislative process.
The council, formed to represent all of the different voices within the party, must find some way to reach common ground and save the party from disintegrating. They must use their political expertise and address the problem with foresight.
They should tear themselves away from their commitment to their factional leaders and take an objective role in the council’s activities.
They must focus primarily on the country’s needs to find a resolution and return to their factions to sell the strategy. When one is desperate for a solution, there is an escape hatch in even the biggest pitfall. There are many examples in Korean political history when a dramatic breakthrough was reached at the last minute.
When the six-member council succeeds in mapping out a deal and has the support from both Lee and Park, the proposal will be regarded as the party consensus. The president and the ruling party must then address the opposition parties and the public and campaign on the merits of their proposal. Only then will the country finally be free from the obsessive and weary conflict over Sejong City. The six council members must remember that they hold the key. Everyone in the party must give them their unconditional support.