NPAD eyes restructure to overhaul its image

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NPAD eyes restructure to overhaul its image

The main opposition party is struggling to recover from its defeat in the April by-elections through a restructuring proposed by its reform council, which has apparently only served to invite more controversy.

After its bitter defeat, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) established a reform council, recruiting Kim Sang-gon, a liberal icon in the education sector, to lead the committee and help revamp the party.

Kim’s reform council last week presented a restructuring plan, which included the suggestion that the NPAD eliminate its secretary general position and split the job, so that it would be shared by two senior managers.

It also proposed that the NPAD scrap its Supreme Council, the party’s highest decision-making body, and introduce a new leadership system.

While the bid to scrap the Supreme Council is still under consideration by NPAD members, the plan to abolish the position of secretary general was approved Monday by executive members. Of the party’s 66 executive members, 35 attended the vote, while 29 supported the move. Two opposed the plan, while four abstained.

The NPAD will hold a session for its Central Committee this Monday to vote on the secretary general recommendation, which Chairman Moon Jae-in said he would do his best to approve. The secretary general is considered one of the most powerful positions in a political party and oversees its funding, including the annual 33.9 billion won ($29.6 million) in state subsidies the NPAD receives and membership fees from its supporters nationwide.

The secretary general is also in charge of the party’s organization and holds the right to distribute central party money to regional chapters and make certain appointments.

According to the reform plan, once the secretary general position is split, a general affairs chief would manage monetary issues, while an organizational affairs chief would oversee the party’s organization.

Last month, Moon appointed his ally, Rep. Choi Jae-sung, as the party’s new secretary general, prompting criticism from his rivals.

Choi, a three-term lawmaker representing Namyangju A in Gyeonggi, is considered a loyalist to the late President Roh Moo-hyun; and NPAD members who are not Roh loyalists fiercely opposed his appointment.

After the reform council presented the plan to scrap the secretary general, Choi held a press conference to welcome the recommendation.

“Whether it will be the secretary general or a door keeper for the party’s building, I can serve [in that position] as long as there is a strong determination for reform,” he said.

While the NPAD has taken the first step in accepting the reform council’s proposal, the fate of the Supreme Council remains to be seen. The proposal to abolish it faced strong opposition by some of its sitting members, particularly those critical of Moon’s leadership. The proposal to scrap the Supreme Council was scheduled for review at Monday’s meeting but was not introduced, while the secretary general post was scrapped.

The reform council later explained that it needed more time to outline a more specific proposal for the leadership restructuring, and that it would introduce a plan before September.

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