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Koreans getting sick of bipartisan impasse

Posted March. 05, 2013 03:27,   


The presidential office and the main opposition Democratic United Party got into head-on collision over the proposed reshuffle of government organization Monday. President Park Geun-hye said in a public statement, “I have a feeling of desperation because preparing growth engines for the nation through cultivation of the information and communication technology industry based on science and the convergence of broadcast and telecommunication technology comprise my philosophy of administration, and constitutes an issue to determine the nation’s future.” She displayed a do-or-die tactic to overcome the political limbo. In a meeting of senior presidential secretaries afterwards, she said, “If the plan to reshuffle government organization fails to pass the National Assembly by Tuesday, when February’s extraordinary session of parliament ends, the new government will be paralyzed and the public will take the brunt of the damage,” pressuring the opposition party. Moon Hee-sang, chairman of the Democratic United Party’s emergency committee, convened an emergency news conference to hit back. “This is one-way communication of the government’s arrogance and self-righteousness that it would not back off even a single step,” Moon said. He effectively rejected a meeting of ruling and opposition party chiefs, which the president offered anew, saying, “I won`t go to a meeting merely meant for meal and photography sessions.”

President Park apparently made her public statement to apply indirect pressure on the opposition by directly appealing to the people, judging that she reached a limit in her effort to persuade the opposition party. The government and ruling party have decided to use a measure of last resort in their capacity. The direct criticism of the president by opposition leader Moon suggests that the latter`s party has gone to the extreme as well. As both sides have relentlessly blasted each other and left no room to back off, there is no chance for a compromise through negotiations.

The most contentious issue over the proposed reshuffle of government organization is whether to transfer functions related to non-news broadcasters, including cable and satellite channels and IPTV, to the new Future Creation and Science Ministry. In working-level talks between the ruling and opposition parities, the two sides agreed that IPTV be handed over to the ministry and satellite broadcasting channels be kept under the Korea Communications Commission. Mostly issues on system operators related with cable channels have yet to be addressed. The ruling Saenuri Party claims that it proposed that the commission hold the right to grant permission and licensing, and the new ministry have the power to revise and enact laws. But the negotiations broke down due to the opposition party’s denial. In contrast, the latter claims that negotiations collapsed because the ruling party sought to change the orientation toward an unexpected direction at the last minute.

In a sense, system operators entail the two aspects of the need for promotion and regulation. The opposition party underscores regulation by focusing on the special nature of broadcasting, whereas the government and ruling party emphasize the industrial aspect such as integration of broadcasting and communication. This has resulted in both sides constantly failing to narrow differences. System operators have the right to distribute channels and are closely related with news reporting, but this nonetheless cannot constitute cause to paralyze overall government reorganization.

The two sides are rapidly heading toward a war of self-esteem rather than analyzing real content of the issue. The presidential office seems to think that if it makes a concession on this matter, it will lose ground to the opposition early. The opposition party is determined not to surrender in the face of pressure from the presidential office. People are anxious over what might happen over the next five years due to the two sides` war of nerves from the early days of the new administration. The two sides are urged to overcome their stubbornness and self-esteem only meant to beat the other side, and should resolve tough issues through political dialogue by considering the other side`s position.