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[Editorial] Governing Party Gets Tougher, But for Whom?

Posted October. 31, 2004 23:15,   


The end is not in sight for a disrupted National Assembly. The governing Uri Party has made it clear that Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan would not apologize unless the opposition Grand National Party apologizes first for its “red-bating.” Hard-line, bunker-mentality statements flooded the general meeting of lawmakers and the high-level meeting of party officials. In response, the GNP will take the risk to bring the issue to the streets. A head-on clash is likely.

Because the Prime Minister’s takes responsibility more than others for the current impasse, it should be he who apologizes first to bring the National Assembly back to normal. Had it not been for his pejorative remarks about the GNP, the situation would not have worsened to the point it has today. Derogatory remarks such as, “The GNP’s attempt to reverse the situation should be counter-reversed,” and “GNP leader Park Geun-hye’s red-baiting dictatorship,” and further, “Another attempt at impeachment by the conservatives” – all have escalated the situation. This is not the posturing the ruling party should take.

They should put the entire business of government into perspective. As the results of the by-elections of October 30 indicate, their approval rate is at bottom. President Roh’s approval rate has fallen below 20 percent. Why did the public, which brought a majority of seats to the ruling party in the April 15 National Assembly elections, change? If they still believe that the force of the vested interest is holding them back, there is no way out for them.

A soft-liner voice goes unheard within the ruling party. Uri Chairman Lee Bu-young, who said, “It is unlikely that we have won the hearts of the public.” He proposed two days ago that the Prime Minister should express regret in return for a GNP commitment against red-baiting, and he has now turned stern again. “The GNP should bring charges under the National Assembly Law against anyone they believe to be on the left, North Korean sympathizers in the government, or the ruling party. We are ready to be tortured as much as you want,” Lee said bluntly.

It does not appear that the president himself has a will to defuse the situation. Although President Roh expressed his new view on “struggle” when he said in Tongyoung, South Gyeongsang province, “Into the late 1990s, ‘struggle’ has been weighing on national prosperity,” he did not comment at all about the prime minister’s pejorative remarks and the standoff at the National Assembly. We don’t know whether this is due to his own role-sharing with his prime minister whom he said would be responsible for overall governance. However, the public is nervous.