New leadership needed

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New leadership needed

After a crushing defeat in the April 27 by-elections, an emergency committee has been set up to deal with the crisis of the ruling Grand National Party. The 13-member committee headed by Chung Ui-hwa, vice chairman of the National Assembly and a pro-Lee Myung-bak lawmaker, will take control of the party until a party convention scheduled for late June or early July.

The GNP’s launching of such an extraordinary committee is not new. After its shocking defeat in last June’s local elections, the party also established a special committee headed by outgoing floor leader Kim Moo-sung. But an overwhelming sense of urgency has given way to empty promises, as demonstrated by the leadership chosen by Ahn Sang-soo, who stepped down yesterday as chairman.

No doubt the two pillars of a party revamp involve reshuffles in both the human and systems areas. The more important one is new personnel, because the last reform effort failed to create any driving force for real change. The pro-Lee forces in the party put their priority on how to manage their vested power rather than finding politicians with fresh images and ideas.

The GNP should prioritize the human dimension so that its new leadership can deal with all the tricky issues the party and the administration face and present a plan for a massive revitalization of the party. But despite the political weight of emergency committee chairman Chung, who is a four-term lawmaker, he doesn’t have a track record of reform at the National Assembly. Some pundits even say that the GNP chose him as a temporary caretaker until the party convention to keep the party in check after Hwang Woo-yea, a non-aligned lawmaker, was elected as the new floor leader.

If the GNP really wants to spruce up its tarnished image, it should put reform-minded lawmakers in the forefront. If the emergency committee fails to meet expectations, the party should select a fresher politician as leader at the upcoming convention. If it sticks to its practice of supporting a self-serving lawmaker as its new captain, it will never transform itself.

It is impossible for former GNP Chairwomen Park Geun-hye to be re-elected owing to a GNP rule that the party chieftain should be different from its presidential candidate. If the GNP has trouble finding an appropriate candidate for its new captain, it must bring in a new face from outside. The current situation calls for a drastic choice that could actually accomplish the rebirth of the party.
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