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[Editorial] The GNP’s Legacy of Defeat

Posted March. 20, 2006 03:34,   


In a panel discussion hosted by Grand National Party (GNP) legislators, Kim Hyeong-joon, a Kookmin University professor, said that the GNP is once again in danger of being defeated in a presidential election. “The GNP promises reforms, but remains complacent. The party fails to break itself away from its conservative values. And voters keep on turning their backs against the party in disappointment. The whole cycle keeps repeating itself,” Kim said. Other panelists were critical of the party as well, saying, “It lost two presidential elections but it hasn’t issued even a white paper. It has neither strategies nor principles.”

The purpose of the event was to give direction to party reform attempts. But the organizers wasted the first 30 minutes introducing prominent guests in the audience, and even interfered with panelists by introducing senior GNP lawmakers who showed up late. The panelists, who were supposed to be the center of the discussion, were pressed for time. There were no “reform” efforts evident in the discussion, just self-satisfied politicians who took advantage of anti-governing party sentiment. Rotten wood cannot make a seal. And voters may be wondering how many GNP lawmakers are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the people.

Not long ago, Seoul Mayor Lee Myeong-bak enjoyed the highest potential presidential candidate approval ratings in opinion polls. But recently he was discovered to have had preferential access to the Namsan Indoor Tennis Courts since 2003, just like an “emperor.”

His imprudence is more evidence that the GNP usually finds a way to sour its own presidential campaign. As more Koreans took issue with his monopolistic use of the tennis courts, he apologized, saying, “I did not expect things to get so serious. I wasn’t thoughtful enough.”

His apology does not sound sincere and reminds the people of Lee Hoi-chang’s apology from the 2002 GNP presidential election. Lee unwillingly apologized for his luxurious residence, but added that the whole issue was “somewhat overblown.”

In addition to the tennis court issue, Mayor Lee’s remarks have caused people to question his qualifications. Recently, he remarked, “It is time for the wealthy to participate in politics more actively.” On other occasions, he made judgmental comments on ruling party politicians, including former Justice Minister Kang Keum-sil. “Kang loves fun and enjoys dancing. She would be popular with government officials,” he said.

The popularity Mayor Lee enjoyed largely came from his “feasible” projects such as the Cheonggyecheon restoration.

The presidential election is more than 20 months away. It is disappointing to see him incapable of keeping himself away from “politics of imprudence.” And continuing verbal blunders indicate that Mayor Lee is in deep trouble.

No Korean voter wants to elect a president whose only strength is his inability to keep his inappropriate comments to himself. No Korean voter wants a president with no clear vision or plan about “politics for the people.”