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[Editorial] Does Opposition Leader Want Real Change?

Posted November. 02, 2009 08:15,   


Main opposition Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun told reporters yesterday that the party will not insist on maintaining the identity of past governments and promised a drastic change through self-examination. “Transcending ideological battles among pragmatism, conservatism and centralism, we will boldly implement policies if they benefit the people,” he said. Hopefully, the pledge Chung made after his party’s good showing in the parliamentary by-elections last week will be delivered and the party will achieve real change.

Chung, however, also said his party will fight the ruling Grand National Party and the Lee Myung-bak administration over the next six months to see which party can genuinely serve the people. So his declaration of pursuing pragmatism might have been a ploy to earn more votes in the local elections next year. Any change, even if intended to help win elections, is welcome if it benefits public welfare.

Chung sought to steer his party toward pragmatism without restraint by ideological inclinations early this year, but due to pressure from progressive party members and supporters of Roh Moo-hyun, returned to old hard-line policies after former presidents Roh and Kim Dae-jung died. If the businessman-turned-politician Chung and veteran strategist Lee Kang-rae, the floor leader of the opposition party, fail to rein in reactionary members who conduct struggles outside of the National Assembly and cling to maintaining their influence within the party, the party cannot expand its support base.

Change in the Democratic Party should begin by embracing media laws, which have been ruled valid by the Constitutional Court. The same old responses such as demanding the resignation of National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o will bring no change. To restore parliamentary functions suspended almost six months due to the Democratic Party’s attempt to block the passage of the media bills, Kim legitimately invoked his authority to pass the bills under majority rule as stipulated by the Constitution.

The court acknowledged that the rights of opposition lawmakers to deliberate and vote were violated. They, however, were the ones who asked for trouble by obstructing parliamentary proceedings. Just as a driver who drinks one glass of beer cannot be considered as driving under influence, partial problems in legislative proceedings cannot invalidate bills. The Democratic Party filed a petition to the Constitutional Court requesting the invalidation of the media laws, but is now showing a self-centered attitude by refusing to accept the court’s ruling. If Chung really wants change, he and lawmakers Chun Jung-bae and Choi Moon-soon should first withdraw their resignations, which they offered in protest of the bills’ passage. It is sheer hypocrisy to dig in their heels and believe that their resignations will not be accepted.

Real pragmatic politics benefiting the people is creating jobs for youth and future generations by fostering the media industry.