A regrettable address

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A regrettable address

President Park Geun-hye’s congratulatory speech on Monday at the opening session of the 20th National Assembly attracts our attention as it shows her perception of the current political landscape and the possibility of co-governing with the legislature down the road.

Underscoring a desperate need for revamping our conflict-prone political culture, the president vowed to cooperate with the Assembly through close communication. She also promised to hold a meeting with heads of the three main parties on a regular basis and respect them as political partners.

The 19th Assembly was our worst-ever legislature because every one of the political parties blindly adhered to their own political and factional interests. Confrontation was rife. But President Park is also responsible for the divisive political scene. The president gave the impression that she tries to rein in the legislature by controlling the ruling Saenuri Party through her loyalists. As a result, party leaders who struggled to uphold its autonomy — and the independence of the legislature — were pushed to the sidelines or removed.

The liberals’ uninterrupted head-on collisions with the conservatives also stems from the president’s obstinacy and heavy-handedness. It is deplorable that a president has been perceived as the boss of a faction instead of the head of state.

It is also regrettable that Park did not mention even a word of self-examination or her accountability for the critical lack of cooperation and harmony in the legislature. That’s the same as making a pledge without holding herself accountable first. The president must not forget that she must take half of the responsibility for the persistent political standoff.

Though her address was regrettable, we welcome her statement that she will respect the legislature as a partner in administering the state. Her reaffirmation of an earlier promise of regular meetings of three party heads is also a promising sign. She must create a political environment in which the executive branch heartily cooperates with the legislative branch.

We could read strong determination in her remarks that our insolvent shipbuilders and shipping companies as well as their creditors must make painful efforts to stay afloat. But she stopped short of blaming the Korea Development Bank for mismanaging Daewoo Shipbuilding and Maritime Engineering.

At the end of the speech, Park said public office holders write their inaugural speeches with their dreams and their retirement speeches with their track records. The aphorism applies to her as well.


JoongAng Ilbo, Jun. 14, Page 30
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