Saturday, October 25, 2003

Not "Our" Party; "Roh's" Party

The brand new, but not yet officially named "Uri Party" has gotten some initial criticism for being confusing. There is also a translation and comment from Oranckay about the naming of this new party.

But whether its spelt Uri or Woori, it spells stupid. The funadmental reason this is not a good name for a party is that it has absoluetly no meaning whatsoever. Calling your party, "our party" doesn't say what the party stands for, doesn't allow for anyone to discern the guiding principles or ideology of the party, and its also the name of a bank in the country. Might be better had it been called the "Roh Moo-Hyun and his band of loyal followers" party which is exactly what it is.

The number and frequency with which political parties are established and disbanded in Korea is mind-boggling for those who come from countries where stable poltical parties dominate the scene. Indeed, Australia's Labor Party celebrated its centenary in 1991 well ahead of the Liberal Party which was only a youngun of 50. Contrarily, Korean political parties are so strongly characterised by their leader that as soon as the leader changes, the party is often disbanded and a new one emerges with the new leader. That is to say, transfer of power of party heads rarely occurs, at least for any amount of time, in Korea.

The implications of this stem down in the party's ability to maintain stability of the nation. As we see already the lack of confidence in the party and the changes going on at the party level are greatly affecting the governing of the country. Already there are calls for a cabinet reshuffle in light of the crisis. Frequent cabinet shuffling due to party squabbles and factionalism only leads to instability and poor country managment. DJ's own frequent shuffles only led to inconsistency in policy and confusion.

As I've mentioned, in just three years at the Ministry of Planning and Budget there were four ministers. But a cabinet shuffle goes much deeper than this. With each ministerial change there was a shake up at the office level. So in some cases a director appointed just two months prior to my office would then be shifted off to another office. Of course the new people in charge of the office would not know what the previous boss had done, and because everyone had changed jobs there was no time for information exchange or training. The result being that with every change some projects would be abruptly stopped and new ones taken on and this happened every few months.

If Korea wants a stable political environment and better names for its parties it needs to establish firm committed parties based on policy and ideology and not on personalities. The current swings and machinations are undermining the countries ability to move forward not only politically but economically and socially.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui