Dump pro-Park factionPresident Park Geun-hye has returned from a trip to Mongolia to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting. Her primary challenge now is addressing hard-to-die public distrust in the government. But her inner circle and high-ranking government officials are ridiculed instead of helping the president reassure the people. Woo Byung-woo, senior prosecutor and presidential secretary for civil affairs, is under suspicion for his alleged involvement in another senior prosecutor’s bribery scandal, while Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-an and Defense Minister Han Min-koo are acting passively.
Professional demonstrators from outside fanning violence in local residents’ rallies in protest of the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system in Seongju, North Gyeongsang, should be criticized. But we wonder why there is no public outrage at their unbridled involvement in the protest? That’s because of a critical lack of reassurance by the government on the sensitive issue. That’s not all. The ruling Saenuri Party now led by interim leader Kim Hee-ok seems to have lost an ability to canvass for public support. The tripartite system based on coordination among the ruling party, government and presidential office does not work at all.
Saenuri Party must first roll up its sleeves to resolve the crisis, as the Blue House and government can hardly make a drastic decision due to their problems involving communications and appointments. Nevertheless, the ruling party shied away from attributing its crushing defeat in the April general election to President Park’s so-called politics of revenge and the pro-Park faction’s blind loyalty to the president. An election review recently released by the party only used quite blurry words such as “lack of empathy and communications” and “overconfidence.” Holding nobody accountable for the shameful election loss means pardoning the pro-Park group for their mistakes in the election. And yet, Suh Chung-won, leader of the pro-Park faction, prepares to run for chairman of the party in the upcoming national convention.
As we have clearly seen, however, the pro-Park group — mostly lawmakers representing Daegu and North Gyeongsang — suddenly flip-flopped and betrayed the president when the government announced the Thaad deployment in Seongju. We can easily expect such self-centered politicians to turn their backs on the president as she enters a lame duck period.
We hope President Park persuades Suh to give up on running for chairman. If she does so, she could avoid her reliance on the group. If the ruling party can talk to the president straightforwardly, the president will be able to persuade the public better than otherwise.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 19, Page 30