Finding a way outLeaving well is as important as living well. President Park Geun-hye has led a horridly ruinous life for the last four years, offering unfettered access to public power to her friend Choi Soon-sil. Since she faces demands to surrender her power for all the damage she has done, Park should at least leave decently. She is utterly misguided and deluded if she thinks she can still exercise some influence over the state and independent prosecutors, not to mention remain in some sort of public role during the next administration.
Park must be fully aware that people are congregating in downtown Seoul this cold December weekend to send a stern message to the president and shatter her hopes of keeping her title. Given her crime and incompetence, she should be stripped from office immediately.
But her exit must be incremental and orderly as to not disrupt the constitutional legitimacy of the presidency and institution of the state.
Earlier this week, the president vowed before the people that she would leave her fate to the legislature and resign from office according to a legislative timeline based on a peaceful and stable transition. Lawmakers, however, have yet to respond officially to the president’s dramatic offer to resign. The political parties cannot seem to agree on a timetable and method.
The Saenuri Party has made it their party position to give the president until April 30 to back out and is hostile to the opposition’s plan to go ahead with an impeachment motion on Dec. 9. The three opposition parties have not sat down with the ruling party for any talks on the issue and reiterated that they will railroad the motion through the legislature next week.
Both plans are fatally flawed. The Saenuri Party only suggests when the president should step down and does not mention what her role will be until then. It is also uncertain whether the president will comply with her party’s demand. The three opposition parties are merely repeating their calls for immediate resignation, echoing the banner cries of the masses protesting at mass rallies.
The best solution so far is one that has been suggested by the minority faction of the ruling party that is not allied with the president. According to the proposal, the president should step down from office by April 30. Until then, all her authority should be handed over to the prime minister. The president should make this clear by Wednesday. If not, the ruling party will also vote in favor of impeachment on Friday. This proposal sounds most plausible and reasonable. The president should take the advice.
Park must not return to office just because an indecisive legislative is unsure about impeachment. If she attempts such a cunning move, she could face bigger outrage and public backlash. The president must stamp out any hope of her retaining her position because she is not worth the title.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 3. Page 30