Published : 2013-03-06 20:33
Updated : 2013-03-06 20:33
Many Koreans might have sympathized with the frustration President Park Geun-hye expressed in her address Monday over the delay in parliamentary approval of her government reorganization plan. Still, they were not so supportive of the way she had pressured the opposition party to accept the scheme.
Her strongly worded appeal to the public proved counterproductive in making the main opposition Democratic United Party drop its objection to transferring broadcasting-related work to the envisioned Ministry of Future Planning and Science from a commission it sees as more neutral. DUP officials hardened their stance, pushing back the approval of the government restructuring bill beyond the special parliamentary session that ended Tuesday.
The deadlock over the bill makes it hard to even predict when the formation of Park’s inaugural Cabinet will be completed, leaving key administrative functions in what her aides describe as a vegetative state.
It is deplorable that differences over the scope of work handled by a dozen officials at the Korea Communications Commission has held back the president from tackling her tasks in a full-fledged manner nearly two weeks after her inauguration.
The DUP may have to pay the price for its intransigent attitude, of which even some party members have turned critical. The party is likely to face the ire of public opinion if it continues to adhere to its position.
But this prospect cannot and should not be a reason for the president to keep pressuring the opposition party to give in to her proposal. Park now appears to be focusing on drawing public sentiment in favor of her, showing her hands tied by the parliamentary failure to pass the government reorganization plan. But she may also see public calls mount for her to be more flexible and compromising in settling disputes with the opposition party.
The prolonged standoff seems to have been amplified as the president and the DUP are trying to gain an upper hand at the initial stage of Park’s five-year presidency. If it is allowed to continue further, however, the cost could be too big for the nation, let alone Park and her opponents, to endure.
They now need to put themselves in each other’s place. From the opposite viewpoint, DUP officials may find it politically wise to let Park push for her initiative and take responsibility for its results.
For her part, Park could be more accommodating toward the demands of the DUP, if she recalls her days as opposition leader. She has a record of having rejected a government reorganization plan proposed by then-President Roh Moo-hyun in 2005 when she was in the opposition.
On her way to winning last December’s presidential election, Park had consistently stuck to her principles. This image as a trustworthy leader had certainly served her well in her political pursuit. But at the helm of the nation, she needs to show more flexible leadership in dealing with the opposition. She should be reminded that cooperation with the opposition will be essential to pushing through her key policy agenda under a law revised last year, which requires approval from more than two-thirds of lawmakers to pass bills. The ruling Saenuri Party only holds slightly more than half the seats in the 300-member parliament.