National Assembly Speaker
By Kang Hyun-kyung
National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o Wednesday urged political leaders not to pursue narrow partisan interests at the expense of national interests.
``Leaders of political parties should be prepared to give up their shortsighted partisan interests when needed. This is because it is the people, not party leaders, who have the real power in representative democracy,'' Kim said in his New Year's message.
The Speaker warned party leaders against jeopardizing the nation's future by following their narrow partisan interests.
Kim released the message after the governing Grand National Party (GNP) and the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP) failed to reach a last-minute agreement regarding the passage of about 80 bills, including a motion to ratify the free trade agreement with the United States and media-related bills.
Speaker Kim Wednesday proposed leaders and floor leaders of the three major parties hold a last-minute meeting in order to reach a compromise on contentious bills, but the parties rejected the offer.
Kim stressed that dialogue and compromise are the two core values that parties should respect and follow in representative democracy.
``Now is the time for us to use wisdom, and admit and respect the differences that we have and strive to reach an agreement through negotiations when parties have different stances on particular issues,'' said Kim.
Chung Sye-kyun, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), called for efforts to mend fences with North Korea and fight for democracy in his New Year's message.
Chung said he looked forward to the nation overcoming the current crisis and the New Year becoming a landmark one for social integration, pledging that his party will play a role in bringing hope to the nation.