[Viewpoint] Park: Releasing the tiger too early?As long as no extraordinary event happens, former chairwoman of the ruling Grand National Party Park Geun-hye will be sure to become the most talked about figure this year. People have begun to ask, “Will Park Geun-hye really become president this time?” and “Can the pro-Lee Myung-bak faction come up with a rival?”
The “Park trend” has already become the key topic in Korean society. The snowball will either continue to grow bigger and bigger or hit a wall and stop. The next presidential election is two years away, but Park made a drastic decision at the end of last year to launch her presidential election policy camp. The Park faction has begun its race.
If the policy camp only stimulates competition in policy development among presidential candidates, Park’s early start could bring a positive effect on Korean society. However, history suggests that an early start will lead to considerable adverse side effects. The most notable of them is the deviation from the general track by intellectuals, politicians and bureaucrats close to the power.
On Dec. 20, Park presided over a hearing about welfare policy. The event was held when many citizens were nervously watching television before the artillery exercise in the Yellow Sea.
Park Hee-tae, speaker of the National Assembly, referred to Park as “a promising future power” in his address. And he added, “Park was inaugurated as the leader of Korean-style welfare, and she can be considered one of the creators of the welfare policy, if not the originator.”
The speaker does not have a party affiliation because he is supposed to take a neutral stance between the ruling and opposition parties. As head of the legislative branch, he should have just celebrated and encouraged the policy activities of a lawmaker.
However, Park Hee-tae offered excessive praise to a lawmaker of a certain party, calling her “the future power.” The sayings and doings of the speaker explain why he is so often criticized as the “servant of the ruling party” when the National Assembly passes a bill without following proper procedure.
The director of a government agency who attended a hearing said, “It is an honor to my family to be invited to such a meaningful event.” He may have been joking, but high-ranking civil servants lining up in front of a future power is a vice of Korean society. He should have been more prudent. If the policy hearing was hosted by another lawmaker, would he use the expression, “honor to my family?”
Park Geun-hye might have released the tiger named power from its cage too early. When the tiger dashes forward, many animals will follow. The first group will be the “migrant birds.” They are the cronies who get close to the sons and associates of the new leader whenever the administration changes. They also include the political brokers willing to exchange the information and values of the organization for power. The migrant birds are competing to enter the magnetic field of power.
The second group is the foxes. The foxes want to get close to the tiger and abuse its influence to benefit themselves. They want to blind the eyes and cover the ears of the power holder and surround the leader with a human curtain. Then they will dominate rights and interests and enjoy the benefits of power. They are strictly “yes men” to the power holder. They never displease or offend the leader with “bitter yet helpful advice.” However, they always go against the rivals.
So far, Park does not have many migrant birds and foxes around her. But when the leaves fall, you know autumn has come. And there are signs here and there. Some familiar migrant birds that have appeared in past administrations have been spotted. The only person who can keep the tiger away from the migrant birds and foxes is Park herself. She is also the only person who can train and tame the dashing tiger.
After her father Park Chung Hee’s power disappeared after his assassination, Park Geun-hye is said to have been hurt greatly by betrayals. However, what will be threatening Park from now on will be flattery rather than betrayal. Park has signed up for a challenge from which she cannot back down. The most important task in her struggle is to keep watch on the human curtain.
Will Park Geun-hye be able to become a master tiger trainer?
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Kim Jin