Don’t muddy the waters

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Don’t muddy the waters

Han Myeong-sook, the leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party, vowed to fight against a government that advocates for an unfair free trade deal with the United States. Her remark apparently had been in response to Park Geun-hye’s comment that it would be wrong to let a party that threatens to nullify a free trade agreement run the country.

The opposition party publicly declared to scrap the Korea-U.S. FTA if it wins the legislative and presidential election this year and warned of the move in a letter to the American president. It is certain that the DUP will use its opposition to the FTA as one its key agendas in the upcoming elections. The DUP should therefore be willing to accept the election outcome as a kind of referendum on its stand on the FTA. It therefore would have to present clear logic to persuade people why it opposes the FTA.

It must explain its position on the Korea-U.S. FTA talks that were initiated by the Roh Moo-hyun government whose legacy it professes to uphold. It must explain if it is opposed to establishing a free trade framework with the U.S. or just some of the results it finds problematic. Han said the FTA was initiated by the Roh government, but circumstances then and now are different. Her comment implies that during the time of the Roh government, an FTA with the U.S. was necessary, but isn’t today. She, however, also said the Lee Myung-bak government has turned the FTA into a disgraceful diplomatic flop and railroaded the flawed treaty, criticizing the process of ratification. She is claiming the FTA drew up by the Roh administration was fine, but the one renegotiated under the incumbent government is not. But it was the opposition that demanded renegotiation in the first place. The party also must explain exactly what areas in the revised agreement are so seriously flawed that they should be nullified. It should also clarify why it has remained silent and willingly passed the free trade pact with the European Union and yet outspokenly opposes one with the U.S.

Now that the DUP has declared its position to reverse the FTA, it has a duty to explain its reasons. It must explain upon what grounds it is justified to revolt against a decision made by a democratic majority system and risk the country’s credibility by unilaterally killing an international agreement. The public will no longer settle for disgraceful political rhetoric. If it stands by its position, a political party assuring a win in the upcoming elections should be able to explain itself clearly.
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