President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that “new politics” should focus on improving people’s livelihoods, apparently taking a swipe at the planned merger between South Korea’s two most popular opposition groups.
Park made the remark during a Cabinet meeting, expressing disappointment that the National Assembly failed to pass key welfare bills in the last session. What she apparently meant was that the opposition groups should have first taken care of pending bills before talking about the merger.
“New politics, in its genuine sense, must begin with taking care of the people’s livelihoods. But very much regrettably, this is not the case in our politics,” Park said, referring to parliament’s failure to approve key bills, including one on a pension system for senior citizens.
On Sunday, the main opposition Democratic Party and an opposition group led by popular independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo announced that they agreed to merge and form a new party, to be created ahead of nationwide local elections in June. The decision came as a surprise because Ahn had said he would create his own party.
Park also urged the parliament to approve those bills.
“The administration and the legislature are the two wheels of a cart that leads the country. Only when the government and the National Assembly move in sync can the nation move in the right direction and the people be happy,” she said.
Park also ordered the government to make greater efforts to ensure that there is no blind spot or hole in the government’s welfare net, referring to the recent collective suicide of a financially distressed family.
A mother and two daughters took their own lives last month, leaving a suicide note saying that they could no longer make a living. It was later found that they were entitled to government subsidies without realizing it.
“It is truly regrettable and heartbreaking,” Park said of the case. “If people cannot even take advantage of existing welfare programs, it effectively means they do not exist. We should first try to help people take good advantage of the existing programs and make them more accessible so as to reduce the blind spot in the welfare system.” (Yonhap)