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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 7)

All News 07:04 January 07, 2020

Hope for new politics
Politicians should regain public's trust before polls

With about three months to go before the upcoming April general election, calls are growing for political reform. The harsh reality, however, makes it difficult to expect the elections to bring about new politics to the country. This is because politicians, both ruling and opposition, are still mired in old politics: partisan struggles and ideological confrontations.

Such outdated politics culminated recently when the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) railroaded two fast-tracked bills for electoral and prosecutorial reform at the National Assembly. The conflict between the liberal DPK and the main conservative Liberty Korea Party (LKP) shows no signs of abating in the run-up to the elections.

Making matters worse, the rival parties are trying to rally their support by deepening political and ideological divisions. Simply put, they are firmly sticking to the status quo and protecting their own vested interests. This means that politicians, progressive and conservative alike, are ignoring the public's aspiration for drastic changes to the nation's political landscape.

President Moon Jae-in was elected under the slogan of building a new Korea by eliminating "old evils" in the aftermath of the impeachment of his predecessor Park Geun-hye in a massive corruption and power abuse scandal. Since his May 2017 inauguration, Moon has vowed to create a fair and just society.

For this reason, the Moon government and the ruling party should have gone all-out to usher in clean politics and reconstruct democracy. But they have been long on words but short on action. They have failed to be any different from the corrupt and incompetent Park administration. Rather, they seem to have resorted to the outdated politics of previous governments.

It is really disappointing to see the Moon administration easily forgetting the lesson from Park's ouster. The government has already forgotten the cries of mass candlelit rallies calling for Park's removal from power and the start of new politics. Moon has yet to make good on his promise to reach out to the opposition parties for "cooperative politics." He has still refused to embrace the LKP as political partners.

Of course, the Moon government and the DPK are not alone in bearing responsibility for the current political situation. The LKP has also invited the public's rage for its intransigence and extreme struggles in pursuing opposition just for the sake of opposition. It has failed to reflect on its failure as a former ruling party which could not prevent its then president from engaging in corruption and influence-peddling.

Against this backdrop, the rival parties should make concerted efforts to leave their old political shenanigans behind and introduce new politics. If they cannot do this ahead of the elections, they may lose the rare opportunity to make a political transformation and establish a mature democracy. Most of all, it is imperative to create a new political culture based on dialogue and compromise.

The ultimate goal of politics is to promote national unity and social cohesion to help the people live a better life. Without serving this goal, there is no reason for politicians to exist. They must double down on restoring the trust of the pubic before it is too late.

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