Posted : 2012-01-05 16:58
Updated : 2012-01-05 16:58

Ruling party to shed ’conservatism’

Kim Jong-in, who heads the ruling Grand National Party's subcommittee in charge of policy reform, attends the party's emergency committee meeting with his eyes closed. Thursday.
/ Yonhap
By Chung Min-uck

The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) is in conflict over whether to remove the expression “conservatism” from its party platform.

The new tension emerged following emergency committee member Kim Jong-in’s comment during a media interview on deleting the word.

“A conservative party cannot survive in this rapidly changing world,” said Kim who heads the party’s subcommittee in charge of policy reform, Wednesday. “Now that the times have changed the expression needs to be revised.”

During a subcommittee meeting Thursday, a majority of its members agreed on modifying the expression but decided to discuss the issue further due to its sensitivity.

Kim explained the move as wooing young voters ahead of the general election in April.

“When you say conservative to young people, they think of rigidness. It needs to be changed,” said Kim.

The call for the amendment of the party platform soon brought a severe backlash from other GNP lawmakers.

“The problem is not conservative itself. What matters is corrupt and greedy conservative. Why is conservative a problem?” said Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, a former party chairman.

“Taking away conservatism from the party platform means discarding the pursuit of a conservative party,” Rep. Chung Doo-un, a reformist GNP member, wrote on his personal Twitter. “Now is the time to establish true conservatism and I will stand behind that.”

Besides removing the word “conservatism,” the subcommittee also proposed further modifications to the party platform in various areas. The suggestion includes a flexible approach toward North Korea, fair competition in the economy and the people’s participation in politics.

Reflecting emergency committee Chairwoman Rep. Park Geun-hye’s customized welfare policy in the party platform is also being discussed.

The policy has been the presidential contender’s representative one that aims to meet the needs of people in different age brackets and income levels.

The proposals are still pending at the emergency committee.

If the committee passes them, they will be put to a vote at the party’s national committee meeting for final approval.

Insiders worry the move could further fuel internal conflict within the ruling party which is already divided over nomination rules for the general election.

Park partially agreed with Kim’s opinion.

“The current party platform is limited as it was made in 2006,” she said during a committee session Thursday, according to a party spokesman.

The party platform was revised under Park’s leadership in 2006.

“I admit a party platform needs to be revised but actual policies for the people should come first. The platform can be revised after making those policies. By doing that, the amendment can get consent from the people,” she said.

Meanwhile, the GNP asked prosecutors to investigate a bribery scandal involving a former party chairman during a previous national convention.

The ruling party also launched a civic committee to verify the ongoing prosecution investigation of a hacking scandal during the October Seoul mayoral by-election allegedly involving many GNP aides.
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