No more closed-door politics

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No more closed-door politics

Talk in political circles is focusing on the recent meeting between Hwang Woo-yea, the new Grand National Party floor leader, and Park Geun-hye, the former Grand National Party leader and a leading presidential candidate.

From a voter’s viewpoint, the meeting itself could be of interest for determining how the ruling party can pick itself up and pave a new direction. But the formalities and the staging of the meeting only increased public disappointment and skepticism about the party’s qualities. Party members took pains to keep the meeting under wraps, changing the venue and trying to avoid reporters. Hwang even looked pitiful in the way he described the meeting with Park. He said it was Park who wanted to keep a low-profile.

She might have justifiable reasons. Lacking a formal executive title in the party, she did not want to appear to be high-handed in treating Hwang, who is also acting party head after GNP leaders resigned following the crushing defeat in the recent by-elections.

But the secret meeting only left a sinking feeling about Park. Hide-and-seek with reporters strongly emulated the closed-door political practices of the old authoritarian days. We cannot understand why political leaders who repeatedly pledge openness, transparency and communication with the people want to keep everyone in the dark. The practice does not go down well with Park’s self-image of a politician with credibility, either.

Park may not understand why a simple meeting with a party executive should create such a fuss. Yet she undermines her status in the party as well in the broad political context given how poorly candidates fielded by supporters of President Lee Myung-bak fared in the recent by-elections.

Particularly, the GNP’s colossal by-election defeats and the consequent defeat of the candidate representing the mainstream faction in the election to select a new party leadership underscores the public call for sweeping change and a new mood in the ruling party. Whether she intended or not, Park stands on center stage so her words and actions attract immense interest and attention.

Park hitherto has been seen as trying to keep her distance from the government as she wraps herself in a cocoon of support from her fans. Now she must be more active and outspoken on current issues and follow up her words with concrete action.
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