The emergency committee to spearhead reform of the ruling Grand National Party will be launched Monday under the leadership of committee chairwoman Park Geun-hye. The committee will prepare reform measures that will be stronger than the degree of re-establishing the party, and will take lead in the party`s operations through the general elections in April next year. Park will officially assume the party leadership for the first time since resigning as leader in June 2006. The fate of the troubled party will be determined by her vision and choice.
Whether her emergency committee will succeed will be first tested through the selection of its members. Chances are high that many people will find hope or hopelessness in the party after seeing which figures will comprise the emergency committee. The symbolic meaning of the committee members will go beyond the pragmatism of it being work-focused. In this light, if the public sees the emergence of an emergency committee comprised of the same old faces, they will dislike the party all the more.
If the committee were to become the undisputed central command of the party`s reform rather than a privatized body, it should be comprised of figures hailing from all different areas. This will be the first step toward the party regaining public trust. The committee will need to include Gyeonggi Province Gov. Kim Moon-soo, former party chief Chung Mong-joon, and former Special Affairs Minister Lee Jae-oh, who may compete against Park for the party`s nomination for president. Committee seats should be open to external experts armed with capacity and qualities like Park Se-il, chairman of the Hansun Foundation who is seeking to establish a new party. It would be fair to say the fate of the committee is dependent on how extensively and well it will recruit non-supporters of Park Geun-hye as well as external figures.
Conflict between factions should be completely overcome. The pro-Park Geun-hye faction should set an example by using as watershed the declaration of faction dismantlement scheduled for next week. The pro-Lee Myung-bak faction should refrain from acting in a way to pose an obstacle to the emergency committee system. When Park Geun-hye was party chairwoman in 2005, she appointed Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, who was critical of her, as chair of the party`s reform committee. When Hong appointed 17 reform committee members, just two were pro-Park Geun-hye faction members. Members of the faction strongly resisted reform measures drafted by Hong, but she accepted them without hesitation. She can revive the party and herself only when she revisits this kind of spirit.
The ruling party`s emergency committee will be destined to face intense competition for reform with the United Democratic Party, which was launched Friday under the joint leadership of the Democratic Party and pro-Roh Moo-hyun group. It remains to be seen which of the two parties will regain public trust by showing sincerity and winning over the people through personnel and policy reform as well as reform of their characteristics as parties.