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Park Demands Her Loyalists Back in GNP

Posted April. 26, 2008 10:33,   


Former Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye strongly demanded that the party allow pro-Park lawmakers-elect, who defected from the party, to rejoin it, while suggesting that she would not run for the party leadership.

In a press conference at her office in the National Assembly, Park said that she would not run in the party’s convention in July, if it alleviates the leadership’s concerns over a possible factional discord. “Let the defectors come back to the party. In return, I will not run in the party’s convention.”

On April 11 in Daegu, Park began to urge party leaders to help permit the defectors to rejoin the GNP without any condition. However, this is the first time for her to link the July party leadership contest to the issue of her loyalists returning to the GNP.

As to GNP Chairman Kang Jae-sup’s remark that he would not accept the deserters during his tenure as party leader, Park said, “I believe that this is not a matter that one individual can decide alone, given that the GNP is an official political party. I hope (the party) makes a decision through official procedures such as a supreme council meeting."

Regarding the timing of their return, Park argued that they should be allowed to rejoin the party immediately, saying there is no reason to delay their return. “Prosecutors’ investigation and their return are separate issues, though anyone who committed wrongdoing should be punished accordingly,” said Park on the probe into the candidate nomination process of the Pro-Park Alliance.

"Kang said that the 153 seats reflect the will of the people and the number mustn’t be artificially changed. He should keep in mind that those defectors are also the ones chosen by the people. Is he saying that more than 13 percent of the voters who supported (the Pro-Park Alliance) are of no concern to the GNP?” said Park, as she criticized Kang’s recent comment.

Triggered by Park’s statement on Friday, the structure of the party leadership is expected to undergo a dramatic change and pro-Park lawmakers in the party will likely step up their effort to allow the defectors to restore their party membership.

However, Park’s new proposal of giving up her chance to become the party leader on the condition of bringing her loyalists back will hardly be able to guarantee their return as many different interests are entangled in this issue within the party.

Nevertheless, if the party holds its convention without resolving the issue, pro-Park lawmakers will likely unite to support a candidate that promises to allow the defectors to rejoin the party, or, in a worst-case scenario, they could boycott the convention.

“Figuratively speaking, (Park Geun-hye) passed a baseball right after the parliamentary elections to the party leadership by demanding the return of the defectors. This time, she passed a basketball by linking her decision not to run in the party’s convention to the issue,” said a lawmaker loyal to Park, adding that Park would come up with her next move, if party leaders do not accept her new proposal.

Some political analysts also point out that Park may have intentionally demanded the immediate return of her loyalists because she knows that the party will unlikely be able to accept it and that it can be an excuse to withdraw from the party in the long run.

In response to Park’s tougher stance on the return of the defectors, the party leadership is expected to draw up a time table for the return or set up a new committee exclusively handling the matter.

Meanwhile, the Pro-Park Alliance hailed Park’s announcement, saying that Park has once again demonstrated what political harmony is to the public.

The following is an excerpt from the Q&A session at Friday’s press conference.

Q: If the issue is not resolved before the party’s convention, will you run in the primaries?

A: No, I won’t. (However, when she was asked later, Park said that she would think about it later and that it depends on the party’s decision.)

Q: What is your opinion on President Lee Myung-bak’s remark that he has no rival in Korea?

A: He is absolutely right. He is president. How can he have any rival in the country? Assuming that there is no faction, what is the problem in bringing the defectors back? They did not betray the party… and I’m not the person who seeks factional politics…. I’ve said that I will not run in the convention. So for those who do not have faith, what else can be a problem?

Q: Any plan to meet with President Lee?

A: He has not contacted me and I do not plan to request a meeting for the moment.

Q: What if he proposes a meeting?

A: The most important issue that I have to solve now is the return of the defectors.

Q: What is the possibility that one of your confidants would run in the convention, even if you don’t?

A: I haven’t discussed the matter and I don’t know how each of them thinks. They are on their own free will.

Q: What if the GNP decides to accept the defectors after the convention?

A: That’s why I just said that I won’t run in the convention. What can be the excuse of accepting them after the convention? Wouldn’t it be too obvious? No matter what it is, you have to play fair.

Q: Wouldn’t the investigation (of lawmakers-elect) of the Pro-Park Alliance pose a problem?

A: That is a problem about wrongdoing. But it doesn’t make sense at all that it is the reason that all defectors cannot restore their membership. What I’d like to say is that the recent (parliamentary) elections’ results show that the people cast their votes to independent candidates or (Pro-Park Alliance candidates) because they believed party reform or political development was going backward.

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