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Roh and Park Meet, Fail to Reach Agreement

Posted September. 08, 2005 07:28,   


President Roh Moo-hyun proposed to form a bipartisan cabinet in an effort to revive the economy at his meeting with Park Geun-hye, the leader of the Grand National Party, at Cheong Wa Dae on September 7. But Park turned down the offer.

The president said at the two-and-a-half-hour-long meeting, “Given that the Grand National Party has deep concerns for the economy and the livelihood of people, I think the Grand National Party can take charge of the economy or of all of the management of national affairs,” adding, “In this regard, I would like to propose forming a bipartisan cabinet to revive the economy and improve the livelihood of people.”

Kim Man-soo, the president’s spokesman, quoted the president as saying, “The opposition party tends to believe that the nation is facing a crisis. If that is the case, the ruling party and the opposition party can collaborate by forming a bipartisan cabinet. I don’t mean to merge the parties by that.”

In response, Chun Yu-ok, the Grand National Party spokesperson, quoted Park as saying, “The bipartisan cabinet is one form of the coalition government. I hope you don’t talk about the coalition government any more.” Park made it clear that she doesn’t want to accept the president’s idea.

Park also said, “The Grand National Party doesn’t want such power. Power can come only from the public. A party can have such power when it wins the support from the public in an election. In the bipartisan cabinet you proposed, the opposition party will no longer exist.”

As for reorganizing constituencies for the general election, the president said, “If we bring some changes to the constituency system, we can defuse the regional animosity in politics.” And he asked, “The Grand National Party doesn’t want the change. Is it because the current system is favorable for the party?”

But Park said, “Reorganizing constituencies can’t address the problem of regional animosity,” adding, “Regional antagonism is disappearing. Politicians are just over blowing the issue.”

The two leaders agreed in principle on the need to re-energize the economy. But they are at odds with each other on how to do it.

Park urged the government to cut spending and slash taxes. The president replied, “The Grand National Party has proposed to slash taxes by 7 trillion won. But a tax reduction can’t solve all of the country’s problems.”

After the meeting, spokespersons Kim and Chun released the meeting minutes in dialogue format at the press center in Cheong Wa Dae.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com