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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on July 12)

All News 06:55 July 12, 2017

Cooperative politics' gone
President should offer solutions to current deadlock

President Moon Jae-in delayed his appointment of two minister nominees who the opposition parties object to, Tuesday. The delay came in response to a request by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea for last-minute efforts to normalize the National Assembly crippled by the appointments.

The liberal leader returned home from his trip to the Group of 20 summit in Germany Monday, but while he was away, partisan conflicts have deepened so much that one can hardly see a way out. Three opposition parties, which control a majority in the 300-seat parliament, vow to boycott all legislative activities unless Moon withdraws his nominations to head the defense and labor ministries.

As a result, two bills on a supplementary budget and government reorganization have been stuck in the legislature. On Monday, the governing party introduced the supplementary budget bill to the National Assembly Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, but there was no deliberation on the bill.

Parliamentary debate on the government reorganization bill is making no progress either. With more than two months having passed since Moon took office, nine out of 23 minister-level government agencies are still without new ministers.

By all appearances, this is not normal and needs to be changed quickly. Given that Moon's appointments are to blame for all these fiascos, the President has an obligation to resolve the problem.

The opposition parties' objections to the two nominees are not without reason. Because Song Young-moo, the defense minister designate, failed to clear suspicions about his cozy relations with defense contractors at a parliamentary hearing, his qualifications to assume the immense responsibility of defense reform are in doubt. Labor Minister nominee Cho Dae-yop is also accused of lying at his hearing, on top of his record of drunk driving.

Against this backdrop, Moon and his presidential aides have done nothing to seek cooperation from opposition lawmakers. The ruling party also appears stubborn about going it alone.

All of this suggests that the ruling camp may be following the bad political practice of being uncommunicative as before, despite the public's call for "cooperative politics." That's probably because Moon enjoys an approval rating of nearly 80 percent. But one can be afraid that he is not delivering on his campaign promises to boost communication with the opposition.

After all, the President and his ruling party should offer solutions to the current political deadlock. No matter how excessive the opposition's demands may be, they have to talk with them patiently.

As a compromise, the rival parties might agree to let one of the two nominees in question resign voluntarily. Past experience teaches us that the consequences could be disastrous if the leader pushes for a contentious agenda merely relying on his or her high approval rating.

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