Lee must change

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Lee must change

In a speech at Tuesday’s opening session of the National Assembly, Rep. Lee Hae-chan, a seven-term lawmaker and the new leader of the ruling Democratic Party, vowed to open a new era of $40,000 per capita income through the government’s push for income-led growth, innovative growth and a fairer economy. The political heavyweight also mentioned the significance of cooperation with opposition parties.

The nation is in crisis due to a deadlock in the talks over denuclearization of North Korea and a bunch of gloomy indicators for the economy. At such a critical moment, cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties is needed more than ever. That’s why Lee’s call for cooperative politics at a time when the ruling party is a minority draws our special attention.

The problem is that Lee’s pledges can only be realized when they are backed by action, not rhetoric. Since the launch of the liberal Moon Jae-in administration 16 months ago, the DP has been demanding co-governance on countless occasions, but not doing much to earn it. The ruling party has been under fire for its role as a poodle of the Blue House while being engrossed with attacking previous conservative administrations in the name of rooting out so-called past ills and neutralizing the opposition. The party was so busy defending the presidential office that it could not play its original role of checking the government.

The DP failed to show the image of a responsible ruling party that can propose alternative policies on the administration’s behalf. Even the act on internet banks — Moon’s first attempt at deregulation — ran aground in the face of vehement opposition from members of the ruling party with close connections with labor unions. Chairman Lee confronts the challenge of transforming his stubborn party into a flexible and innovative one. At the same time, he must put the brakes on the Blue House if necessary.

To do that, Lee must change. He blames previous administrations for the economy’s deteriorating employment numbers. If he adheres to such hostilities, he cannot find solutions to the problems. The Blue House is poised to press ahead with some weird economic experiments despite a plethora of indicators that show they have failed. We hope Lee talks straight to Moon without hesitation.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 6, Page 30
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