NPAD still frets about its leader walking outPark Young-sun, the embattled leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), remained in seclusion for a third day yesterday and is expected to step down from her post and quit the party as early as today, according to multiple sources.
“The possibility of Park leaving the party appears high,” said one of her aides, “given the various circumstances.”
In the worst-case scenario, according to NPAD sources, she may issue a written statement ripping the lid off the irrationalities she experienced while serving as interim leader of the party.
Some worried senior lawmakers tried to get in touch with Park to restrain her, but in vain: she didn’t show up at her office and couldn’t be found at her residence yesterday. Her phone was also switched off.
Chung Dong-young, a senior advisor for the party who has been close to Park since they worked together at broadcaster MBC as news anchors, said in an interview with local media yesterday that he heard Park had not wavered in her threat to desert the party.
“As far as I know Park, she is a straight line rather than a curve,” he said. “She is straightforward when it comes to expressing her thoughts and tends to carry out her intentions right away. I guess [her determination] is hard to be swayed.”
On Monday, the 55-year-old journalist-turned-politician threatened to leave the party after more than 30 hardliners within the main opposition party, including some former supporters, called on her to resign from the leadership over the weekend.
They faulted her attempt last week to appoint Lee Sang-don, a professor emeritus at Chung-Ang University and former member of the ruling Saenuri Party, as one of the two co-heads of an emergency committee that would control the NPAD until it holds a party convention early next year to elect a party leader and supreme council members.
It was an attempt to bring the NPAD closer to the political center that backfired.
Questions over Park’s leadership initially emerged after she made two deals with the Saenuri Party on a special bill to investigate the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April that led to over 300 deaths. The NPAD forced her to repudiate those deals over objections from the relatives of the students who died on the Sewol.
The NPAD’s deep disarray comes less than two months after its two former co-leaders, Ahn Cheol-soo and Kim Han-gill, stepped down after an electoral defeat in the July by-elections.
Hardline lawmakers want Park to resign as interim leader but consider her quitting the party “beyond imagination.”
Rep. You Seung-hee, one of hardliners, said, “I have yet to confirm [the report of Park’s determination to withdraw from the party], nor do I want to believe it.”
The repercussions of her departure would be major given that the party was already divided along factional lines. Rep. Moon Jae-in, for instance, leads a faction that was loyal to former President Roh Moo-hyun, whereas a different faction followed Roh’s predecessor Kim Dae-jung. There is also a faction that consists of first- and second-term lawmakers with more progressive tendencies.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]