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Opposition leader reverses course after near defection from party

Opposition leader reverses course after near defection from party

Posted September. 18, 2014 05:39,   


Park Young-sun, the floor leader and acting chair of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy who stayed in isolation after warning her possible defection from the party, has returned to the floor leader post, saying, “I will move forward only by taking the responsibilities bestowed on me” on Wednesday, the sixth day after she went into seclusion. It is fortunate that the crisis of vacuum in the opposition party’s leadership, which should address the paralysis of the National Assembly due to a Special Sewol Act through consultations with the ruling party, has been overcome. However, it is questionable whether Park, who faced intra-party objection to agreements between the rival parties she signed twice by party insiders, and to her bid to recruit chairman of the party’s emergency committee, will be able to display strong leadership to finalize the Special Sewol Act and normalize the National Assembly.

Criticizing President Park Geun-hye’s claim on Tuesday that "the demand to grant the truth investigation committee the right to investigate and indict runs counter to the principle of separation of powers," the opposition leader said, “By gathering collective opposition of party lawmakers, I will exert all-out effort.” However, even some party insiders claim that “The party should not focus all of its energy on securing the right to investigate and indict (former spokesman Geum Tae-seop). The party’s approval rating, which fell to around 20 percent, itself reflects the prevailing opinion of the public demanding the party to normalize the National Assembly to approve bills for people’s livelihoods even while the party continues negotiations over the Special Sewol Act.

For one, a flurry of issues related to people’s livelihoods are pending at the National Assembly, including next year’s state budget, the government’s planned hikes of taxes such as tobacco tax and residents’ tax, and the mobilization of the necessary funds to improve welfare and galvanize economy. NPAD criticized the government’s plan to revise the taxation system at its policy coordination meeting that called for "opposition to a hike of taxes on the working class without withdrawal of tax reduction for the rich," but blindly criticizing the government outside the National Assembly while dumping the parliamentary right to deliberate on state budget and various other bills is nothing more than blank criticism. It is also disappointing that floor leader Park displayed effectively outdated behaviors regarding the method even after vowing to “sympathize with the public” at the press conference to announce her return to party leadership.

The NPAD will never be able to regain public trust unless it changes its partisan propensity, in which it disregards people’s livelihoods, and instead engages in anachronic practice of selfish strife to seek ideological clarity, while only pursing factional interests. The NPAD`s acting chairwoman Park also confessed on Wednesday, “I had urged the party to transform itself into one that can seize power and that the public sympathize with, but I myself only encountered limitations in these efforts, and thus shivered due to overwhelming sense of despair.” Only when the party identifies problems in the party that gave her sense of despair and presents ways to address them, then can Park dispel the doubt among people in and outside the party that she made fuss by threatening to defect the party only to keep her post, and thereby fundamentally change the party. More than anything, she should normalize the National Assembly, living up to her position as the leader of the main opposition party, and demonstrate her commitment to "put reform pledge into practice.”