Published : 2013-12-04 19:45
Updated : 2013-12-04 19:45
It is ill-timed and ill-conceived that former opposition presidential candidate Moon Jae-in is trying to move to the fore of politics, signaling his intention to make a second bid for the presidency in 2017. A string of recent moves by him, which have put him in the media spotlight, will do no favors to his party, the political atmosphere and his future plan itself.
In a meeting with reporters last week, the Democratic Party lawmaker indicated his willingness to run in the next presidential race, saying he “will not avoid any kind of role if the chance is given.” His new book to be released next week, which is expected to elaborate on his failed presidential challenge and the lessons learned from it, is titled “1219, the End is the Beginning.”
His latest steps marked a turnaround from his statement issued after his defeat to ruling party contender Park Geun-hye in the presidential election on Dec. 19. Surrounded by his disheartened supporters, Moon said at the time he would give up on his dream and hoped that the opposition camp would win the next election with a “better candidate.”
It is not unusual for politicians to flip-flop on their pledges. The late President Kim Dae-jung reneged on his declaration to retire from politics to make his last and fourth presidential bid in 1997. It may thus be unfair to criticize Moon for having reversed his earlier stance. He is free to run again for the presidency, having his party members and voters decide on his political fate.
But his about-face is poorly timed and lacks the due process that is needed to justify it. His indication of a possible second presidential bid has intensified the internal feud in the main opposition party. Lawmakers close to Moon, who served as chief of staff for the late President Roh Moo-hyun, are increasing pressure on the party leadership to get tougher with Park and the ruling Saenuri Party on pending political issues, including appointing a special counsel to investigate state agencies’ alleged meddling in the last presidential vote. Some moderate DP members criticize the pro-Roh group for attempting to lead the party in their factional interests.
In their talks that continued late into the night Tuesday, leaders of the two main parties agreed on a compromise to break through the longstanding political stalemate. The internal discord in the DP may scuttle the fragile agreement. Moon should refrain from throwing cold water on the momentum of bipartisan cooperation. He has been accused of having exacerbated the partisan strife by amplifying the controversy over Roh’s remarks during the 2007 inter-Korean summit, which could be interpreted as abandoning the disputed maritime border in the West Sea.
It is only natural that the public is skeptical or negative in its response to Moon suddenly reviving his presidential ambitions while ignoring the criticism over his divisive impact. In recent days, he has further toughened his rhetoric, denouncing Park and her party for engaging in what he called a politics of hatred and terror that divides the nation. His claim may not be totally groundless. But he should also reflect on himself.
If he is really serious about a second presidential challenge, what he should perhaps do now is to give up his parliamentary seat and keep away from politics for a few years. That was the way Kim staged his successful comeback.