Grasping an opportunity

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Grasping an opportunity

In Monday’s first meeting of a reshuffled emergency committee of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), Moon Hee-sang, its new chairman, compared the embattled party to a “sinking ship” before stressing the importance of a broader-minded approach to politics in the wake of the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry. The opposition is infamous for its habitual resort to shows of penitence at times of crisis, as seen in its lawmakers’ repeated vows to be hit with a stick if they flounder again or its signature march in which members bow down to the ground after every three steps. But the public are disgusted by their hypocritical gestures.

Chairman Moon has presented three remedies to the NPAD’s problems: a swift enactment of a special Sewol law that will satisfy families of the victims in that tragedy; preparations for a national convention next year; and a thorough reform of the party. Moon solemnly declared he would “put an end to every type of factional feud and political maneuvering.”

But it was regrettable that the committee led by Moon stopped short of apologizing for paralyzing the legislature for five months over the special Sewol law aimed at getting to the bottom of one of the worst maritime disasters in Korean history. Also, it is unfortunate that the main opposition party avoids apologizing for twice reneging on agreements with the ruling Saenuri Party over the special law. The committee members must recognize that the party’s crisis began with a group of former democracy fighters’ mockery of the representative democracy they had championed. Though we welcome Moon’s apology to the ruling party in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, it would have been better if he had done that on the level of the emergency committee.

Moon took a right direction by lowering demands over the special Sewol law. The opposition must break away from its blind accommodation of the relatives’ demands in order to recover their responsibilities as a pillar of the legislature.

Moon Jae-in, the opposition’s former presidential candidate and now one of the committee members, must untie the knot he tied when he went on a hunger strike in sympathy with the families instead of encouraging his colleagues to negotiate with the ruling party in the Assembly. He must take responsibility for his misguided action.

It takes two to tango. The Saenuri Party must not be overly respectful toward President Park Geun-hye. It must enact the special law as soon as possible by taking advantage of the delicate change of atmosphere surrounding the opposition.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 23, Page 34
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