Let the acting president do his jobThe opposition is attacking the interim government led by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who took over as acting president after Park Geun-hye was impeached on Dec. 9. Some demonstrators at Saturday’s protest, the eighth so far against the scandal involving President Park and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, demanded that Hwang step down immediately. They marched toward the prime minister’s office calling for his resignation because he “collaborated” with the impeached president.
Park was impeached by the National Assembly over her abuse of power, and the charges are now under review by the Constitutional Court. In the meantime, Prime Minister Hwang is leading the government as interim leader.
As the legislature impeached President Park on the people’s behalf, they must accept the legitimacy of Hwang’s interim government until the next administration.
Nevertheless, organizers of the demonstration and opposition parties are calling for the unconditional resignation of the acting president without presenting any road map for an uncertain future. In fact, Prime Minister Hwang is serving as acting president because the opposition pressed ahead with Park’s impeachment after refusing to accept her proposal to appoint a new prime minister that the National Assembly would recommend.
The opposition must help the acting president run the government if it really wants to take power in the next administration. The country faces many urgent economic and security issues. The opposition must demonstrate maturity to help the administration tackle those challenges.
Leaders of the three opposition parties must accept a compromise to meet one on one with Hwang instead of sticking to a bilateral consultative meeting between the opposition and government. When an emergency committee is established in the ruling Saenuri Party, the proposed consultative meeting comprising the government, ruling and opposition parties can take off. To prepare for that day, the opposition needs to demonstrate willingness to cooperate with the government.
At the same time, Prime Minister Hwang needs to keep a low profile when dealing with the people and legislature. He only serves as acting president in accordance with the law. Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers, who currently make up a majority in the legislature, carry political legitimacy as they were elected by the people. Hwang must accept such a limit in his interim governance and cooperate with the opposition.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 19, Page 34