By any measure, two opposition lawmakers’ recent remarks aimed at President Park Geun-hye were excessive and ill-conceived.
A lawmaker of the Democratic Party urged Park on Sunday to resign over allegations that state agencies meddled in last year’s presidential vote, calling for a reelection in time for next June’s local polls. On the following day, another DP legislator warned Park that she could face the same fate as her father ― President Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country for 18 years until he was assassinated in 1979 ― if she resorted to a similar authoritarian rule.
These remarks may appeal to their ardent supporters but will only harm the opposition party as a whole.
The demand for Park’s resignation and a presidential reelection not only sounds unrealistic but could backfire, as it defies the results of an election. Furthermore, many DP officials see little chance of their party winning a revote when its approval rating remains far below those for Park and her ruling Saenuri Party. The remarks that suggested Park might repeat her father’s tragic fate seemed just insensible, in whatever context they might have come.
DP leader Kim Han-gil indicated the party’s embarrassment, saying its members should be more cautious about making public comments.
The presidential office and the ruling party erupted in outrage against the remarks ― a natural response in view of Park’s supporters. But they may have gone too far in their reactions.
A presidential press secretary appeared too emotional when he condemned the remarks that invoked the memory of Park’s father as inciting terrorism and encouraging harm against the head of state.
It also seemed out of proportion that the ruling party filed a motion with the parliamentary ethics committee Tuesday to expel the two opposition lawmakers from the National Assembly.
The ruling camp may face criticism that it is intentionally amplifying the controversy over the DP legislators’ remarks to dilute the opposition’s demand for a special counsel probe into state agencies’ alleged intervention in last December’s presidential vote and drum up supporters in the lead-up to the upcoming local polls.
A day after submitting the expulsion motion, ruling party leaders called for bipartisan efforts to help prevent possible North Korean provocations in the wake of a major shakeup inside the communist regime. To prove the sincerity of the request, they need to deal with the opposition in a more measured and compromising manner.