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[Op-Ed] The Opposition`s Role in the Economic Crisis

Posted March. 18, 2009 04:45,   


“We should have said more about banking and corporate debt.” This was a statement not by the president or treasury secretary of the United States, the country where the global economic crisis originated. Rather, this was said by British opposition leader David Cameron in his formal apology to the British people. In his first speech at parliament after the funeral of his son, Cameron acknowledged that his party made mistakes, saying, “We took things easy and predicted that the economy would keep growing.” He then apologized for his failure instead of blaming the British government and the ruling party for failing to prevent the crisis. More Britons are supporting Cameron, however, instead of blaming him and the opposition party.

Cameron even apologized for the mistakes made by the ruling party. He begged for the people’s forgiveness as if the United Kingdom has the worst financial conditions in Europe because of the opposition party. Instead of criticizing the ruling party, Cameron said former Tory prime ministers such as John Major and Margaret Thatcher also were responsible for the crisis. Cameron’s approval rating has shot up 17 percentage points from a month ago to 59 percent. On the other hand, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s approval rating is 35 percent. Cameron’s frankness might have won over the British people.

In Korea, what would happen if the chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party Chung Sye-kyun also said his party is responsible for the crisis? He would probably face harsh criticism from lawmakers of his own party and be forced out of his post. Economic conditions do not change all of a sudden even when a new administration takes power. The Roh Moo-hyun administration weakened Korea’s economic fundamentals through excessive regulation even before the financial crisis was expected to emerge. Nevertheless, the opposition party has never apologized and has blasted the ruling Grand National Party’s pump priming bills as “evil laws” of the Lee Myung-bak administration. This explains why the opposition party’s approval rating is near zero percent.

The ruling and opposition parties should cooperate to overcome the unprecedented global economic crisis. Indonesia’s parliamentary speaker, a member of the opposition party, promised President Lee Myung-bak when he visited Jakarta laws to help Korean companies in Indonesia. A trade union leader promised a foreign buyer that his company would deliver goods by a certain date. Given that, it is not surprising that an opposition leader takes the initiative in establishing laws to contribute to economic growth. The Democratic Party’s Kim Bu-gyeom said, “The Democratic Party have lost popularity since it’s considered a party that blocks bills from being presented to the National Assembly and opposes bills for the sake of opposition.” His statement sounds plausible. The opposition party cannot be exempt from its responsibility to handle the economic crisis.

Editorial Writer Park Yeong-kyun (parkyk@donga.com)