Updated October. 09, 2012 02:57
The internal feud within the ruling Saenuri Party has reached a dangerous level. Ahn Dae-hee, chairman of the partys special committee on political reform, held a news conference Monday to announce that if Han Kwang-ok, former executive adviser to the Democratic United Party who was implicated in a corruption scandal, is appointed chairman of a ruling party committee on national reconciliation, he and many committee members will resign. Kim Jong-in, chairman of the Saenuri committee on the peoples happiness, and party floor leader Lee Han-koo remain in intense conflict over economic democratization. Despite the resignation of Choi Kyung-hwan, chief secretary to the partys presidential candidate Park Geun-hye, demand remains strong for a massive personnel reform targeting key members of the pro-Park faction and the party leadership. Members of the party`s mainstream faction who helped establish the Lee Myung-bak administration are overly uncooperative and even obstructing the partys campaigning.
Park cannot afford to ignore the internal dispute to simply focus on her campaign. Demanding a complete reshuffle to start from scratch all over again is no different from a request to give up the election, she said in rejecting the demand for personnel reform and urging unity. Yet it is doubtful whether her request will be accepted under the circumstances. The tragedy in the ruling party is self-righteous individuals who pursue personal interests without making sacrifices, while failing to see larger party and national interests.
Chairmen Kim Jong-in and Ahn, who were recruited to revamp the party, might feel disappointed in finding their raison d´être deteriorating to an extent. But they need to agonize over whether blindly insisting on the values they pursue is the right thing to do in an election campaign, in which getting more votes is a matter of utmost importance. They should see the election camps of main opposition Democratic United Party candidate Moon Jae-in and independent Ahn Cheol-soo, who are embracing everyone to form coalitions against Park. Economic democratization should be formulated in an environment where diverse economic values including growth, efficiency, self-determination and innovation coexist. The clear value of political reform is important, but the party might inevitably have to make a strategic choice to achieve the larger value of national reconciliation.
Considering the ruling party`s situation, whether it can keep the presidency will determine its fate. Nonetheless, key members of the faction backing President Lee are effectively failing to recognize the calling of the party`s need to keep the presidency. One party member who was previously the president`s confidant is busying promoting a non-Saenuri presidential candidate who has a similar educational background. Another member has openly said, Park will fail in this election. The party should prepare for the next presidential election five years from now. Rep. Lee Jae-oh has claimed to have played a key role in establishing the incumbent government, but seems to behave like an alien as if he has no interest in maintaining the presidency. Why former ruling party chairman Chung Mong-joon is uncooperative is also hard to understand.
Key members of the pro-Park faction should self-reflect whether they erected barriers around their candidate since the April 11 general elections. If she is surrounded by key members of her faction, she will have few chances to directly hear graphic signals that warn of dangers. The ruling party`s internal dispute is closely related to incompetent leadership. It is also questionable whether all 148 party lawmakers are doing their best to help the party win the presidential election. They should reflect whether they are more interested in their own survival under the next government despite urging intra-party reform on the surface.
Park herself should take the responsibility to fuse all of these issues and form unity. Her capacity to reconcile and lead, two qualities essential to successfully govern the country, will be also evaluated if she reconsolidates party unity and ends Saenuri`s chaotic situation.