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[Editorial] Tasks to be addressed at bipartisan summit

Posted December. 29, 2000 20:10,   


In the summit between President Kim Dae-Jung and main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) chairman Lee Hoi-Chang scheduled for Jan. 4, the two leaders will have to deal with crucial tasks that will have a great bearing on the nation's political future.

The foremost task facing the two is to address a wide spectrum of questions ranging from President Kim's blueprint for reforming state affairs and inter-Korean issues to reconciliation between the eastern and western regions. Accordingly, the two leaders need to reach a broad consensus on the formulation of a framework for steering state affairs.

Fortunately, since both President Kim and GNP leader Lee share the view that they must bear heavy responsibility for the current national crisis and have both expressed regret over the nation's plight, they should be able to do more than just pay lip-service to the nation's problems and instead forge a politics of inclusiveness. By attacking the nation's problems with an open mind and a sincere attitude, they can give hope to the people, many of whom are now under suffering under the weight of frustration and economic instability.

Over the past year, the ruling and opposition parties doggedly engaged in old-fashioned politics of confrontation and antagonism. The ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) caused parliamentary turmoil by mobilizing a majority floor force to railroad a revision of the National Assembly Law through the Assembly committee and plenary sessions. Meanwhile, the opposition MDP was prone to maneuvering for its partisan interests, in negligence of its responsibilities as the Assembly's largest political group. As a result, the parties, which should address social concerns and lead national opinion, deepened disunity and discord throughout the nation.

In order to avoid reinviting this kind of hostile political atmosphere, the rival parties must remove the wall of mutual distrust. That won't be easy, since recent bipartisan disputes over propositions for a constitutional amendment designed to introduce the two-term, four-year presidential system, together with the installation of a vice president, overall political realignment and the proposed merger between the MDP and its former coalition partner, the United Liberal Democrats (ULD), will certainly intensify the bipartisan strife and deepen their mutual distrust.

Of course, there is also the problem of the existing presidential form of government, which provides for a five-year single presidential term. In light of the present partisan structures, based on the parties' respective regional power bases, political restructuring could be instrumental to rectifying the situation. But the question is whether the leaderships of the two parties have the motivation to undertake this task. The opposition GNP already lashed out at the move, contending that the MDP and the ULD were hell-bent on forging an artificial political realignment in a conspiracy to hold onto power. In this context, President Kim's remarks that he would make a grand determination on the issue in the New Year have only caused further controversy.

If this particular issue is not resolved, the nation's politic sector will slide into a vortex of inter-party confrontation once again. For now, there is no room for the parties to wrestle with a constitutional revision or political restructuring.

The general public demands that the rival parties unite for the purpose of revamping state affairs and overcoming national crisis. Both Kim and Lee must announce their positions on this issue at the projected summit.