[EDITORIAL] No Party Infighting at Time of Crisis

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[EDITORIAL] No Party Infighting at Time of Crisis

We would like to know how the current political crisis is being perceived by President Kim Dae-jung's inner circle. Members of the Dong-gyo-dong group have been preoccupied by infighting the past few days since one of them - a member of the Supreme Council of the Millennium Democratic Party - was urged by a colleague from the same faction to stand down.

The president's closest advisers met the other day to seek a way of ending the internal strife, and after a session of heavy drinking committed themselves to burying the hatchet.

Indulging in a power struggle at a time when the nation is sinking deeper into crisis is unseemly. But when the infighters vow to strengthen their bonds, while ignoring criticism from outside their ranks, it is downright disgraceful.

Can the members of the Dong-gyo-dong group really be unaware of the significance of the call for Mr. Kwon Roh-kap to resign? Mr. Chung Dong-young, the Supreme Council member who made this suggestion, retailed rumors of Mr. Kwon's involvement in certain office appointments and business interests.

Since Mr. Kwon instantly and exhaustively denied any wrongdoing, it is impossible at the moment to tell if the rumors have any basis in fact.

Although the powerful Dong-gyo-dong group's members deny any misconduct, we have observed that suspicious behavior on their part has perpetually fueled speculation.

A typical example is the case of Mr. Park Geum-seong, dismissed as Seoul Police Chief last week, barely two days after being appointed. There have been ceaseless complaints coming from police ranks about irregularities in appointments and promotions, and invariably they point to the involvement of one or another member of the Dong-gyo-dong group.

If the group's members are innocent, as they vociferously claim, are we to believe that Mr. Park owed his fantastically rapid rise solely on his merits? The Dong-gyo-dong group is giving President Kim Dae-jung - its long-time leader - a migraine. If if the allegations prove to be unfounded, the innuendo is hurting his credibility.

Instead of reflecting on their conduct and resolving to be more prudent, members of the group have been trying to pass the blame. For days, the public has seen plenty of energy spent on maintaining influence and power, but no efforts whatever at responding to the national crisis.

The group, the most significant force in bringing about Mr. Kim's election, remains the engine of the ruling party. When it stands accused of mismanaging government affairs, its meetings should be devoted to rectifying the problems whether it created them or not. Instead, it has simply vowed to stop the internal bickering.

If we asked members of Dong-gyo-dong group who they pledged their solidarity to, the answer would undoubtedly be to their own group. A key cause of the current political crisis is the mistrust of people in the government and the ruling party.

That mistrust stems from untruthful statements and arbitrary management of government. The Dong-gyo-dong group has been identified as the core of this arbitrary management style. Everyone - except the members of the group itself - seems to know where the key to political renewal is to be found. We counsel the group's members to respect the people's wishes.

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