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[Editorial] Real Reason for Mass Defection

Posted February. 07, 2007 07:05,   


Yesterday, 23 Uri Party lawmakers including former floor leader Kim Han-gil and former policy chief Kang Bong-kyun deserted their party. At a press conference, they bowed as a token of repentance and resolved to start anew, saying, “We are leaving the party to create the much-anticipated people`s integrated new party.” However, it doesn’t take a genius to know the real reason why they left: to distance themselves from the hugely unpopular president and to avoid responsibility for the failed polices of the current government.

Thus far, 29 lawmakers have quit the party including the six who left before yesterday, costing the party its parliamentary majority that it won in the 17th general elections in April 2004. Although their methodology is different, they have the same goal: forming a new party to fight the Grand National Party. It is said that the defectors have already tried to recruit figures from outside the political circle. They are trying to look different by merely changing the party name.

Former Uri Party chairman Chung Dong-young, who is likely to defect, said, “Let’s meet as an integrated new party.” He will desert the party if his faction is at odds with the pro-Roh faction over creating a new party after the national convention scheduled on February 14. He made no bones about his intention to join the defectors if things don’t turn out very well. What’s going on within the ruling party is like a repeat of a farce during the last presidential election in 2002 when lawmakers from the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) left their party en masse in an effort to put pressure on then-candidate Roh Moo-hyun, who was reluctant to forge a united front with candidate Chung Mong-jun.

At a luncheon meeting yesterday with Uri Party leadership and an ad hoc committee for constitutional amendment, President Roh criticized the defectors, saying, “Defection will not work. Those who desert the party cannot be successful lawmakers.” His remark has only fueled the controversy. He seemed to forget the fact that he himself left the MDP three years ago and that his claim of “growth from the outside” divided his party last summer.

The general public pays billions of won in subsidies whenever these “defectors” form a new political party. It is no wonder that some talk about the overhauling of the subsidizing culture. And others even say that lawmakers should be deprived of their position when they quit their party.

Politicians tend to take the public too lightly and to take taxpayers’ money for granted. And this flies in the face of the motto the Uri Party adopted when it was launched. Uri Party lawmakers should think about this before leaving.