Who’s to blame for the disarray?

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Who’s to blame for the disarray?

The house of the Saenuri Party is in disarray once again following the emergency leadership committee decision to accept back seven lawmakers that left the ruling party and were elected in the April election as independent candidates. The faction loyal to President Park Geun-hye called the decision a coup against their boss. It threatened acting committee head Kim Hee-ok and floor-leader Chung Jin-suk to withdraw the decision. They may be intimidated by the return of Rep. Yoo Seong-min — who had become a kind of iconic figure of standing up against the president — and by possible ramifications in the party’s power dynamics.

But nonetheless, the fuss they are making is shameful and ridiculous. They seem like aliens. They are out to denounce Kim who they seated to wield influence over party affairs for disobeying. The authority to whom to readmit to the party lies entirely with the executive committee, a role currently acted out by the ad hoc emergency committee that had been elected in a party convention. The decision was made through two secret votes by 11 committee members after lengthy discussions, and therefore legitimate.

Political coup refers to an overturn of power by illegitimate forces through physical force. Defying a party leadership decision made through a legitimate and democratic process is childish and slanderous. They may be emotional because the committee went against the will of the president who founded the party and made it a ruling power. But there is no rule that the ruling party must staunchly obey the president. The president should be challenged if he or she is wrong. The president, her aides, and loyalists all should end the childish blame game and whining about loyalty by respecting the party leadership decision.

The Saenuri Party is a sinking ship. The loyal faction may disapprove Yoo’s return, but his place is with the party as proven by the overwhelming votes he gained after being wrongfully expelled from the party. What is arrogant is defying a leadership decision to normalize what was abnormal. Since the controversy, Kim has been nowhere to be seen. He would be wrong if he kowtows to the threat of the pro-Park faction and steps down for leading the committee vote to readmit members. Kim must not act against the public opinion.

Chung as the floor leader also must not tolerate the excess of the loyalist faction. A battered ruling force cannot navigate the country facing myriad challenges. A president should be the leader for the entire people, not just for those who blindly follow orders.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jun. 18, Page 26
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