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GNP Lawmakers Speak Out at General Meeting

Posted June. 03, 2008 03:36,   


In a briefing immediately after the general meeting of Grand National Party (GNP) lawmakers on Monday, Kim Jeong-kwon, the public relations representative of the party, said, “A majority of the lawmakers present at the discussion called for the renegotiation of the U.S. beef import agreement.”

In the closing remark, GNP floor leader Hong Jun-pyo said, “We will share all the ideas discussed in today’s meeting with Cheong Wa Dae and make sure that all our demands are met, including the request for a Cabinet reshuffle.”

○ National credibility vs. voice of the people

Kim said that the demand for renegotiating the U.S. beef import deal was stronger than ever, during Monday’s meeting.

GNP lawmakers also argued that the government should postpone publication of the official posting of new import standards on the government gazette, and called for fundamental measures in addressing the issue through close consultation with the United States.

Not only lawmakers Nam Kyeong-pil, Won Hee-ryong and Kong Seong-jin but also first-year lawmakers such as Kwon Yeong-jin, Kim Seong-tae, Chung Tae-geun, Kim Seong-shik, Kang Seok-ho and Hwang Yeong-cheol demanded the renegotiation before and after the meeting.

Lawmaker Kong Seong-jin stood before reporters at the meeting room, saying, “Asking for a renegotiation may not be in line with internationally-agreed practices. However, the government must decide which comes first—the nation’s credibility abroad or the people’s voice. Personally, listening to what our people want is more important.”

Lawmaker Won Hee-ryong said, “Pushing ahead with the government policy when it promised to take all necessary measures to ensure the people’s safety would contradict what the government has communicated to the public. Therefore, a substantive renegotiation is inevitable.” He added, “It must consult with the U.S. behind the scenes to minimize any diplomatic damage.”

Lawmaker Chung Tae-geun suggested, “The GNP should send a delegation to the U.S. to inform it about the current situation in Korea and to tell them that exporting U.S. beef to Korea now would neither benefit U.S. farmers.”

Lawmaker Nam Kyeong-pil said, “The point of contention is the import of beef from cattle older than 30 months. The government should postpone the import of such beef for a certain period of time with or without renegotiation or additional negotiations.”

Lawmakers Kang Seok-ho and Kwon Yeong-jin said, “The U.S. beef import deal must be renegotiated in some aspect and that the publication of the policy on the government gazette must be postponed.”

○“Dramatic Cabinet reforms needed”

Lawmaker Nam Kyeong-pil stressed that decisive action was needed from President Lee, in calling for dramatic reforms to the system linking the party, the government, and Cheong Wa Dae.

He added, “The three pillars supporting the Lee administration—the presidential secretary, prime minister and the Cabinet, and the ruling party—completely failed to serve as a buffer against the current crisis. Therefore, these pillars must undergo reforms.” He specifically pointed out the responsibility of the presidential chief of staff and the prime minister.

Nam further noted that replacing just a few Cabinet members would not be enough. “The President must conduct a complete shake-up of the Cabinet. His aide and Cabinet members, who counseled and supported him, must blame themselves for the current crisis.”

Regarding the scope of the Cabinet shake-up, Nam also said, “Those in charge must feel responsible for the current crisis. It is up to the president to make the final call.”

While referring to Samsung Group, which recently underwent difficulties following allegations of an illegal political slush fund, lawmaker Kim Yong-tae asked for dramatic measures to address the current trouble. He said, “Samsung was able to quickly assuage the public by introducing unexpectedly dramatic measures to counter its crisis. The government should also follow suit, and it must not be reluctant in putting forward dramatic reform measures.”

Lawmaker Kong Seong-jin said, “Instead of relying on stop-gap measures, the government must take a structural approach in addressing the current crisis. Public distrust over government’s policies has been brewing for some time. Therefore, it is time for the government to come up with overall reforms with a more macro view.”

○ Explosion of ideas

After arriving at the conclusion that the current crisis did not arise from the U.S. beef issue alone, but was the result of multiple factors, including poor cooperation among the ruling party, the government and Cheong Wa Dae, confusion in policy implementation, and lack of communication in national affairs, GNP lawmakers came up with many improvement ideas at Monday’s meeting.

Lawmaker Kim Seong-tae called for the government and the ruling party to change their mindset about structure of communicating with citizens, noting, “Over the last decade, the communication structure of our society shifted from vertical to horizontal. However, the government and the ruling party still see the candlelight vigil from a vertical communication structure.”

He added, “They should not attempt to hastily turn things around by pushing ahead with the canal project and privatization of state-run companies.” Instead, he stressed that the government’s immediate task was to exert utmost effort to win back the hearts of the people.

Lawmaker Kim Hyo-jae said, “We lack political creativity, but we need it to appoint Cabinet members who can live up to the expectations of our citizens. We should appoint them as long as they listen, even when their policies may not be completely compatible with the party’s ideas.”

Lawmaker Kim Seong-sik demanded policy changes, saying, “There has been too much confusion in policy implementation. We must also stay away from biased policies. Social conflict may continue to haunt the nation if we place too much emphasis on efficiency.”

Lawmaker Kang Seok-ho questioned President Lee’s qualities as a leader, saying, “Running the nation based on his experience as a CEO of a conglomerate may not be compatible.”

Lawmaker Jin Seong-ho said, “It is about time our party introduced measures to deal with the TV and the Internet.” Meanwhile, lawmaker Hyeon Gyeong-byeong urged his colleagues to set an example by promising the public that they would eat U.S. beef before anyone else.

Meanwhile, some GNP lawmakers raised the possibility of a conspiracy behind the candlelight protests, saying, “Some influential groups are using the events for their own political advancement.”

Lawmaker Kim Dong-seong said, “I saw many anti-American and anti-government slogans at the demonstrations. We need to get a grip on who is really behind the candlelight protests and what their motives are.”