The chairman of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, Moon Jae-in, dedicated 80 percent of his speech Thursday at the National Assembly to the economy.
“Without a big paradigm shift in the government’s economic policies, Korea has no future,” he said.
Moon also stated that the NPAD aims to become a competent liberal party even in the realm of growth, adding he can’t think of economic affluence and equity without growth. He also had a positive review of ruling Saenuri Party Floor Leader Yoo Seong-min’s speech a day earlier and proposed that a parliamentary body be established to tackle skyrocketing household debt and jeonse rates.
Opposition leaders should be concerned about the economy. Our opposition parties have so far prioritized ideology over the people’s livelihoods and distribution over growth, not to mention resorting to a self-serving reiteration of, “We can handle the economy well” - without coming up with any proof. That’s why the public always doubts the opposition’s ability to manage the economy when it comes to a presidential election. In that sense, Moon’s latest address carries great significance. Saenuri’s floor leader Yoo also criticized President Park Geun-hye’s economic policies focused on the growth side and called for massive economic reform for the sake of the underprivileged. The opposition leader stressed the importance of growth. They basically were singing the same tune.
Yet it is too early to predict a colossal makeover for the opposition. In the two general elections and presidential elections since 2007, party insiders and outsiders stressed that without caring for the economy, the party has no hope. Despite repeated pledges of reform, the party leadership couldn’t implement them in the face of vehement resistance from hardliners, particularly the pro-Roh Moon-hyun group.
Moon’s turnaround - as seen in his recent emphasis on security and the economy - reflects his judgment that he has no other alternative to win in an election. He must first have the courage to pass the pending civil servants pension reform bill and find effective ways to address urgent economic issues, including readjustment of welfare.
In the address, Moon mentioned former president Kim Dae-jung five times. Kim took the lead in opening our cultural market to Japan and establishing the Park Chung Hee Memorial. A great leader should be able to respect his political foes. We hope Moon keeps this in mind if he really wants to inherit the spirit of Kim Dae-jung.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 10, Page 34