Though belated, it is the right move for President Park Geun-hye to meet with the floor leaders and chief policymakers of the ruling and main opposition parties at Cheong Wa Dae this week.
Their discussion may not cover the full range of pending issues, but should serve to facilitate bipartisan cooperation in passing key bills proposed after the Sewol ferry disaster in April, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.
The floor leaders of the rival parties last week agreed to enact a special law on investigating the cause of the disaster and supporting victims’ family members during the ongoing extra parliamentary session that runs through July 17. But the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy still remain at odds over details of the envisioned law. Both parties should also promptly pass other bills on restructuring the government organization and cutting the cozy links between bureaucrats and business.
President Park and the ruling party need to pay heed to the opposition’s counterproposals to the government reorganization plan announced in May. The NPAD last week suggested keeping the Coast Guard intact and establishing a full-fledged ministry in charge of safety matters. The party argues that it would be wrong to dismantle the Coast Guard and put the new safety-related ministry under the control of the prime minister, not the president, as planned by the government.
True, it is desirable to respect the president’s initiatives as much as possible in restructuring the administrative branch. But the reorganization work should also be carried out on the premise that there can be no single perfect scheme. Some experts as well as opposition members have charged that the government plan was drawn up hurriedly without thorough consideration in the aftermath of the ferry disaster. It is hoped that the best means of ensuring public safety and administrative efficiency will be worked out through bipartisan consultation.