Normalize the legislature firstPark Young-sun, the interim leader of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), held a press conference yesterday after confounding political circles with a rumor about an alleged plan to break away from the main opposition party. Her departure from the NPAD floor leader position was deemed impossible, as it could lead to the collapse of the NPAD’s legal foundations and the fall of one of our legislature’s two pillars. As expected, Park has returned to the party. But the problem is that she must now bear an even bigger burden as a result of the farce after exacerbating the situation of her embattled party.
In the press conference, Park hit the mark when she said, “We must be afraid of the people as they are carefully watching what’s happening in our party.” Even though NPAD lawmakers are pushing for renegotiations with the ruling Saenuri Party over the special Sewol law, which is aimed at getting to the bottom of the country’s worst maritime disaster ever, they are really more interested in who will take the helm of the party as the new leadership will exercise nomination rights in the next general elections in 2016.
Park’s remarks also laid bare mud-slinging among the pro-Roh Moo-hyun group, the 1980s democracy fighters and those with strong ties to the old Democratic Party over the leadership, which has forced the party into a comatose state. And despite his vow to help the interim leader with the crisis, Moon Jae-in, the opposition’s former presidential candidate, veered in the opposite direction, driving Park over the edge with his immature sense of judgment, equivocal rhetoric and indecisiveness. Most importantly, however, Park’s shaky leadership will likely make it impossible for the party to play its part in the legislature.
Park faces two challenges: One is picking a successor with no aggressive opposition from each faction, and the other is putting the dysfunctional National Assembly back on track as soon as possible, given that it has passed no bills since the April 16 Sewol tragedy.
Park’s role as a political partner to national governance is more important than her role as head of the party. Park and the opposition lawmakers must recognize that they serve the interests of the nation before working for their factions or for the party. If they dismiss their obligations, the legislative contingency will end up with a public call to disband the party and revamp political circles. We hope the NPAD does not take up outdoor protests again to divert people’s attention away from its internal feud.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 18, Page 34