Go to contents

[Op-Ed] Kang Bong-gyun and Park Sang-cheon

Posted September. 04, 2009 08:42,   


Democratic Party lawmaker and former public servant Kang Bong-gyun led corporate restructuring as senior secretary for economic affairs and finance and economy minister under the Kim Dae-jung administration. Kang is considered a moderate conservative but is also well known for his unyielding conviction. He has emphasized alternative measures when dealing with lawmakers of the ruling Grand National Party as well as colleagues at his own party. When the ruling and opposition parties were at odds over bills on temporary workers and media reform in the first half of this year, Kang stressed the importance of a responsible party. “We have to suggest alternative solutions instead of groundlessly opposing the move of the ruling party,” he said.

When National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o gave a speech at the opening ceremony of the regular parliamentary session Tuesday, Democratic Party lawmakers stood up, held up pickets, and yelled, “Kim Hyong-o is responsible for railroading controversial bills. He should step down.” Though leaders of the opposition party asked lawmakers to hold up pickets and shout catchwords before the speech, Kang stood up but made no noise. Party members were split over the measure to demonstrate and left the assembly hall before the plenary session. The voices of moderates, however, were overshadowed by floor leaders who sided with hard-liners.

Before the plenary session, Park Sang-cheon made several calls to floor leaders and said, “It is inappropriate to demonstrate with placards inside the National Assembly. We should not behave immaturely.” His efforts were in vain, however. The five-time lawmaker was called a “smart” floor leader in the early 1990s and worked as justice minister under the Kim Dae-jung administration. In June, he asked Democratic Party members to negotiate with the ruling party instead of sticking to a policy of struggle when the Democratic Party boycotted parliament and the ruling Grand National Party announced that it would unilaterally run the National Assembly.

Other leading figures of the Democratic Party snubbed the order to demonstrate with placards. They rejected the hard-line stance of their party leaders designed to prevent the ruling party from passing controversial bills. Instead, they urged the provision of practical policies good for the general public instead of meaninglessly fighting with the ruling party over ideology. A few lawmakers of the opposition party support this conviction, which could be a limitation of the Democratic Party.

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