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[Editorial] A Challenge for the Opposition Party

Posted February. 06, 2009 09:13,   


Park Won-soon, civic activist and executive director of the Hope Institute, criticized the opposition party in a meeting hosted by the Democratic Party’s think tank. “If Democratic Party lawmakers ride subways just for a month instead of their cars, their attitude will change,” he said. He urged a change in the party’s mindset and a stop to the stubborn head-on collision against the government, saying, “The public will eventually turn its back on the party if it keeps locking horns with the government. The party’s arguments will become more persuasive if based on rational grounds and legitimate methods.” Park has seemingly targeted the imprudent behavior of opposition lawmakers who raise their voices against the government but fail to provide solutions. Even senior party members in a meeting urged restraint from resorting to violence. The ruling and opposition parties should remember this advice from senior politicians.

Korea faces an unprecedented economic crisis, but the National Assembly is basically out of order. Throughout extraordinary parliamentary sessions this month, the Assembly was convened to hear speeches by the floor leaders of negotiating parties. They might understand that a number of revisions and amendments should be passed to save the sagging economy, but have turned a deaf ear to the urgent need to pass the bills. If parliament stays the same, lawmakers will not deserve their parliamentary seats.

A meeting of the special parliamentary committee on ethics was convened yesterday to negotiate disciplinary measures for eight lawmakers who caused violence and brawls in the National Assembly. The meeting, however, broke up shortly after a Democratic Party member walked out. How could a lawmaker who claims to serve the public neglect his duty without conscience?

Lawmakers might not understand the dire situation of skyrocketing unemployment and layoffs since they are fed by tax money. In addition, the number of college students who leave school is rapidly rising because of the tight job market and gloomy economic outlook. Politicians who turn a blind eye to the people’s suffering must resign.

The opposition party is to blame for its refusal to deliver revised bills submitted by the ruling party and the government on tackling the economic downturn, the people’s livelihood, and normalization of the state affairs. The ruling Grand National Party, which holds a parliamentary majority with 171 seats, however, is not without fault, either. The presidential office should reflect on how sincerely it has sought cooperation from the opposition party.

After hearing Park’s speech, Democratic Party policymaker Kim Hyo-seok said, “His comments were really sobering. We should no longer remain in offensive mode and instead get back to our duty.” The opposition party should pay heed to the advice of the civic activist who comments were not based on his political stance.