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[Op-Ed] Opposition Party Should Help Revive Economy

Posted February. 03, 2009 05:30,   


Chung Sye-kyun, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, was once recognized as a politician with a sound understanding of the economy and business. Having worked 17 years at the Ssangyong Group, he was well versed in the real economy. He also served at the parliamentary standing committee for the economy as well as commerce, industry and energy minister. Among officials under the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration, which had a knack for conducting a hard-line struggle and political calculation but was poor at state management, he was considered a rare politician with a sense of rationality.

In a New Year’s news conference yesterday, Chung proposed that the ruling Grand National Party focus on reviving the economy instead of seeking to pass contentious bills. He said the upcoming parliamentary sessions should be used to create more jobs rather than become a tool to produce “evil laws” aimed at strengthening the Lee administration’s iron-fisted rule. Chung also maintained a political offensive against the government, however, by branding the deadly clash in Seoul’s Yongsan district as violence triggered by the government. It is regrettable to see the main opposition party in offensive mode, seemingly ready to engage in another head-on collision. If he was really worried over the economy, he would not have turned parliament into a place of violence and political wrangling.

The opposition party should reflect on whether it has the interest to support the sagging economy and the people’s livelihood amid the massive global crisis facing Korea. It has been standing in the way of deregulation efforts on media ownership, separation of financial and industrial capital, and restrictions on equity investment, labeling them “laws unfair to the underprivileged” or “evil laws designed to intensify government control.” In this sense, the opposition party has only had a negative influence on the economy by fanning an anti-business sentiment that drives off investors, making an international mockery of Korean politics through violence and physical conflict and causing the nation’s overseas credit rating to tumble. Members of Chung’s party should be ashamed for neglecting their duty as lawmakers, while resorting to a small number of anti-government leftists and forces.

They must help turnaround the sluggish economy if they are truly concerned about it. For example, they can play a role by establishing a special committee to prove whether political leaders from previous governments, including former presidents, abused political slush funds for their own interests. If they can dig up illegal political funds and retrieve them to the national coffers, the money can help support the people’s livelihood. Moreover, it will also serve as an opportunity for disclosing immoral politicians who claim to be helping economic revival and the working class, but whose behavior does not match their words.

Editorial Writer Kwon Soon-hwal (shkwon@donga.com)