All parties responsible for the fiascoNearly a month after her administration launched, President Park Geun-hye may finally have her government in order. The leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and opposition Democratic United Party came to an agreement on her proposed government reorganization plan by compromising on key differences over the authority of the new Ministry of Future Planning and Science. The bill will finally be put to a vote on Wednesday. Once the legal revision authorizing the creation of extra ministries, including the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, is passed, confirmation on the nominated ministers will proceed, completing the new government.
But the compromise, which came after weeks of fighting, is generally disappointing. A press release on a bipartisan agreement usually amounts to less than two pages. This time it took eight pages, suggesting the extent of the conflict behind the deal.
The biggest obstacle was who to give the authority over cable TV operators - the new Ministry of Future Planning and Science or the Korea Communications Commission. The two parties agreed to transfer oversight to the new ministry so it can be in charge of all information, technology and science-related businesses and projects, as originally proposed by the president. As a concession, the ruling and opposition parties gave the KCC the rights to review and approve new permits for system operators and other new media. Also, the ministry and the commission will share authority over radio frequencies. But this arrangement could create confusion in the media.
The biggest downside to the deal is that it requires a series of legislative revisions and follow-up laws. It took nearly 50 days for the two parties to agree on the government restructuring bill despite the urgent need to fill the administrative vacuum amid escalating threats from North Korea. They may drag their feet on the follow-up measures as well.
This fiasco has underscored a critical lack of political leadership on both sides of the aisle. The ruling party was under pressure to fight to get the bill through with no compromise. But the agreement came at the cost of public confidence in the president’s ability to communicate. The ruling party was just busy trying to please the president and follow her orders.
The opposition party also suffered significant losses. It displayed itself as a party of whiners that opposes for the sake of opposition.
At the end of the day, the president, the ruling party and the opposition all lost favour with the public.