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[Op-Ed] Carthage and the Grand National Party

Posted February. 25, 2009 07:41,   


In 218 B.C., General Hannibal of Carthage defeated the Roman army and waited for Rome’s allied cities to cut their relations with the Roman Empire. The allied cities stayed loyal to the empire, however, and Rome reorganized its army and sent Scipio to northern Africa to attack Carthage, which proved too weak to protect itself against the Roman attack. Hannibal almost reached Rome but had to return home to fight the Roman army. Carthage was eventually defeated by Rome. The Carthaginian Empire’s decline reflects the end of a nation divided by disruptions, doubt and power struggle.

In modern-day Korea, Hong Joon-pyo, floor leader of the ruling Grand National Party, will stay in office for three more months. Several candidates, however, have expressed interest in his post, including Ahn Sang-soo and Jeong Ui-hwa. Kim Mu-seong, the party’s chief policymaker Yim Tae-hee and Hwang U-yeo are also considered candidates for the position. Certain members of the ruling party say Hong will voluntarily resign after the extra parliamentary session this month. Party leaders have faced difficulty weathering strong resistance from opposition parties. But a few party members are pursuing their own interests instead of backing efforts to pass disputed bills.

Even Hong has frequently expressed his desire to become justice minister. How about other leading members? Party chairman Park Hee-tae is paying extra attention to the by-elections in April, Na Kyung-won is seeking the position of Seoul mayor next year, and Yim is considering running for Gyeonggi Province governor. Former party secretary-general Kwon Young-se said, “This is really ridiculous. Party leaders are only pursuing their own interests. It is not surprising that Grand National Party members are not taking the conflict with the opposition seriously.”

Two months have passed since the ruling party began narrowing differences with opposition parties over disputed bills, yet ruling party members do not understand why they should make all-out efforts to pass the bills. Worse, certain party leaders are against the bills. It is hard to believe that such a malfunctioning ruling party can pass bills and efficiently lead the nation for the next four years under the leadership of President Lee Myung-bak.

Editorial Writer Park Seong-won (swpark@donga.com)