Making political hay

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Making political hay

Moon Jae-in is a prominent and well-known opposition leader. He served as chief secretary for former President Roh Moo-hyun and ran as the presidential candidate for the opposition after winning a majority vote in a party primary in 2012. He is dubbed a formidable contender to head the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, which is now under acting leadership, and is also a potential contestant for the presidency once again. He joined a hunger strike to support relatives of the students who died in the sinking of the Sewol ferry. The relatives have been on a hunger strike for more than a month in a tent in downtown Seoul demanding a thorough investigation that would include civilian and victim representatives. Moon sided with the family representatives who refused to accept the proposal for the Sewol special law agreed to by the ruling and main opposition parties.

In our view, his behavior is inept.

A former presidential candidate of the main opposition party is more than a mere lawmaker. In the last presidential election, Moon won 48 percent of the votes. He must have a broader perspective on social issues and the government. While sympathizing with the sufferings and questions of relatives of the Sewol victims, he should approach the issue in a national context. What the families demand - that the rights to investigate and indict be given to a group of civilians - is not possible within the country’s laws. But Moon refused the reasonable path from the beginning. He criticized it as “shameful and embarrassing.” He lamented that “the country’s dignity and confidence in the government have been sunk.” A political leader should have more than words of criticism at a time when the country is in crisis.

Al Gore lost the presidency to George W. Bush in the 2000 election due to the recounting scandal in Florida. But in times of crisis, he showed no grudge. When Hurricane Katrina struck the American southeast in August 2005, Gore, a mere civilian, arranged and partially paid for an airlift evacuation of 270 patients from a hospital in New Orleans. Gore didn’t brag of his actions.

Other politicians from the opposition have acted like political novices. But Moon had a chance to act like a responsible leader. He could have offered to help his colleague Park Young-sun, the NPAD floor leader who is acting leader of the party, by counseling the families while she negotiated with the ruling party. Then he could have come across as a leader who thinks of the country and not a mere opponent to the government - or an opportunist at a time of tragedy.




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