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Ahn envisages a reasonable centrist party for reformsTo promote the interests of common people

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo (former co-chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy) declared on Sunday Dec. 27, 2015 that fairness must form the basis of politics, economy and various other areas in Korea and that the educational paradigm of the Republic of Korea must also be changed.
Speaking at a press conference at the National Assembly on that day, Ahn said, “Disparities among the different strata of people in Korea must be eliminated so that the livelihood of the entire citizens of the country may improve together.” He said that “only this way, Korea will become an advanced country in the world.”

▲Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo (surrounded by reporters) is declaring his departure from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy led by Chairman Moon Jae-in at a press meeting in Seoul on Dec. 13, 2015.

“We must also stick to a fixed principle in our diplomacy, national security and our unification policy,” he emphasized. He said, “Firmly based on the alliance between Korea and the United States, we must try to solve the inter-Korean problems performing a leading role.” Excerpts from his statement at the press conference follow:

There are not many days left to the year 2015. We have all had a tough time this year. You have all worked hard shedding a lot of sweat, but the life has become harder. There is no security for our old age, and there is no future for our children. The barrier of reality is so high. If today is like yesterday and if tomorrow is like today, there will be no future.
I stand here today with a desperate mind and a firm conviction that we cannot leave the Republic of Korea in this state. Our parents have endured this situation then and so are we today. But to our children, we should hand down a better country. Only that way we can have hopes.

▲Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post (third from left) is introducing Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo (left, foreground) to Ambassadors Elisabeth Bertagnoli of Austria (right foreground) and Pham Huu Chi of Vietnam at the VIP Lounge of Kimpo Airport on March 22, 2014

Many persons have told me not to become a politician. They said that muddy water would be thrown on me and that I would be spoilt by the dirty water. On my part, I, too, was worried lest I should fail to keep up with my faith and meet the expectations of the people. In the past several years, I have not been able to do well. I have failed to meet the expectations of the people. I am standing all alone in the wilderness trying to start all over again. The expectations and hopes the people repose in me are the last chance they may be giving me.
If I should fail again in my effort to change the Korean politics and in saving the Republic of Korea from the desperate political situation today, the Korean people would be greatly disappointed. It would be dreadful outcome. I will do everything I can to keep the embers burning. I will repay the people by realizing new politics, different politics and fair politics at all cost.
We have a problem with the economy. Why are the Korean people in the depth of despair? The problem is the economy. Many people say that there is no solution to the problem. Is it true that there really is no solution? I would say that there is a solution.

▲Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo explains how he will go it alone without the NPAD in the upcoming National Assembly elections in next April.

To begin with, the so-called ‘Creative Economy’ of the Park Geun-hye government was in no way ‘creative.’ The solution of President Park does not work. The ‘Trickle-down Theory’ of the ruling Saenuri Party and the government-controlled economy do not work in the 21st century. The government economic plan was wrong from the beginning and the people no longer reponse confidence in the economic plans of the government.
The people who handle the economy are the problem. The problem with the government is that they do not want to secure the services of fully qualified people in handling the economic problems properly. The government does not try to find fully qualified people to solve the economic problems but tries to use people who are obedient. In this process, it is very difficult to find fully qualified people who could solve the difficult problems of today.
Fully qualified politicians should be entrusted to try to solve the problems.
Noted Economist Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel Prize, said that political bipolarization did not come from social bipolarization but that extremist politics brought about a social bipolarization and division of the society. He is right. Political bipolarization brought about social bipolarization and in this state the politicians became unable to solve the livelihood problem of the people?still less the economic problems.
The problem comes from those in power who try to cause division among the people and make themtake sides with an eye to continuously exerting their influence on them.
At a quick glance, it appears that they are making assertions different from each other. However, each side is taking advantage of the other side in the form of co-existence of convenience. The politicians should change themselves.
The dictators of the 1970s got away with their dictatorial rule in the name of achieving economic development and in the ensuing 1980s the reformist politicians were bent on political movements. Neither the politicians of the 1970s nor those of the 1980s can offer a solution to the problems of the 2016.

▲Rep. Ahn-Cheol-soo (seated at the center of the interviewees's table) declares that he will form a new opposition party in early Februrary in the New Year and do everything he can to take over the control of government at the upcoming general elections in April next year,

The Republic of Korea surely has enough talented people fully qualified to solve the problems that Korea faces today. Now is the time for us to try to find such people and entrust them with the mission of developing a better future. To do so, Korea needs their wisdom and help. Now is the time to form a political party with such a people. I repeat, “Now is the time!”
Today, people say that if good people join politics they become spoilt. If politicians do not improve themselves, the Republic of Korea cannot extricate itself from the rut of despair. Korean politics will improve only when the political arena improves and new people join and grow in the political world. Top-rate human resources must form the new center of Korean politics. People in the 30s and 40s should become the spine of the Korean politics. Such people must come into the National Assembly and express their views.
Politics must not be monopolized by people whohave ‘special experiences.’ On the contrary, the people who have been paying their taxes honestly should become the main players in our political world. The key players in the political circles should the people who are recognized as good workers at their places of work, who produce results once they are assigned with work. They have a proper sense of responsibility when they are given the work, and listen to the opinions of other people trying to find a common ground for agreement. They assume the responsibility for what they speak and listen to the different opinions of the other people and find an agreeable solution. They also share the pains of their neighbors.
In many villages and towns there are people who are known as such even though they are not very widely known. We need people on whom the villagers say, “They are good people.” They are the people who are entitled to entering the National Assembly.
Common understanding, communication, participation, opening, coalition and cooperation must become the core of Korean politics. The people in the ruling and opposition political camps should try to put an end to their ideological and political strife and confrontation. They should try to solve the problems of the daily lives of the people first as their top-priority responsibility. They should have dialog and try to find a common ground of agreement.
The ruling party produces lawbills without sufficient studying, and tries to ram them through the National Assembly. The opposition party, too, has much room for improvement as it offers resistance for the sake of offering resistance. This type of vicious cycle must end. Endless confrontation between the ruling and opposition camps produces no winner. They only produce losers and the ultimate losers are the people.
It is high time we put an end for good to the politics that turn the people into victims.
We need politics that are based on agreement among the different parties. In order to do so, we should try to produce correct blue prints and deliberate on them for an adequate period of time.
We have a lot of problems that we must tackle for proper solutions. They include the ageing of our society, aggravation of social bipolarization, dropping rate of child birth, lack of new growth engine industry, youth unemployment, and many more. In tackling these problems, we must not take such an attitude where one side insists that it is right and that the other side is wrong. This way there will be no dialogue. Looking at the other side through colored glasses and labeling it as wrong, one would not be able to find a common ground. In that manner, no one would be able to find any common ground for dialogue or negotiation.
The time calls for communication and effort for finding a common ground.
We should try to do politics where our views are understood by the people.
Before I joined politics, I had had a program with young people, which was named “Youth Concert.” It reminded me of many things. Listening to the voices of the young people and the difficulties they faced, the speaker and listeners became one. Yes, it is true that communication started from listening to the voices of the other side. Dialogue begins when we attentively listen to the different views of the other side?without ignoring or belittling the views of the other side. Listening to the different voices of the other side without ignoring them induces a good dialogue.Listening to the different views of the other side, communication and concurrence form the starting point of new politics.
Participation and open-mindedness also form an important principle.
The barrier between the politicians and non-politicians must come down. Politicians must directly communicate with the people. The voice of the organized minority is too strong compared with that of the silent majority. The voices of the masses, the middle class and the common people do not reach the ears of politicians. The politicians look only at the organized voices, which make extreme confrontation occur endlessly.
Political cliquism must be done away with. New politics calls for openness, participation and joint search for a better future.
We must try to seek the wisdom of agreeing.
The crisis and problems faced by the Republic of Korea today cannot be solved by any one person or one political party. We must all join hands to wade through these difficulties. No country has been successful where a limited number of people took sides among themselves and pursued politics of division. Everyone had worried about Germany concerning the possible bad effects of reunification. However, Germany has successfully overcome the ill after-effects of reunification of their country. The success came as a result of cooperation and agreement on the part of the people and leaders.
The Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Norway and Sweden are noted for a high standard of living of the people, and have successfully overcome the ill effects of economic crises. It was possible thanks to the coalition and cooperation in the political arena of these countries. The new politics we seek is for us to change the main players of the politics and change the political culture and mode of action.
We need an overall change in our objectives and vision and that is what the ‘new politics’ are all about.
First of all, fair play must form the basis of the economic policies of the Republic of Korea.
Second, the educational paradigm of the Republic of Korea must change.
Third, disparities among the different groups of people in the Republic of Korea must be eliminated so that the livelihood of the entire citizens of the country may improve together. Only this way, the Republic of Korea will become an advanced country in the world.
The most important thing is the livelihood of the Korean people. Even if our exports increase and the economy grows, the living of the majority of the Korean people has not improved. Some may say tomorrow will be better than today. However, good jobs are in short supply and 70% of the total number of owner-businessmen have closed down within three years of their starting. Fair play for fair competition is very important in improving the disparity between the big businesses and the small-medium industries. Big businesses are expanding their influence excessively driving the small-medium companies and self-employed people to a ‘land of death.’
The big businesses take the law into their own hands, and in this situation the small and medium businesses and self-employed people can hardly survive. Thissituation makes the life even harder for the common people.
Fourth, we must stick to the principle in our diplomacy, national security and our unification policy. Firmly based on firm basis of the alliance of the Republic of Korea and the United States, we must try to solve the inter-Korean problems performing a leading role.
The road is clear for the new political party to follow.
The new party will follow a reasonable reformist line instead of outdated progressive politicians and conservatives.
Where there is a problem, there is a solution. We must make an all-out effort in finding a solution. It is new politics that try to find a solution to problems instead of making problems.
The new politics we pursue will cause a change in all segments of our society.
The strong shocks of the new politics will invite a good change in the old conservative camp. The new vision and ideas of the new politics will make the outdated old conservatives change their way of thinking.
The challenges of the young, talented people will cause the conservatives to give up what they think are their vested rights.
We need a new political party that can start a competition for reforms.
It is about time a new political party was born and Korean people started giving a hand so that it can provide the people with a wider range of choice.
My dear fellow countrymen, now is the time for you to entrust the management of the Republic of Korea to the political party that would provide you with a wider range of choice and a better choice.
The Republic of Korea must be entrusted to the people with new ideas and new leadership. New ideas and imagination of the young people will save the Republic of Korea and charter a new way for the country and people.
My dear fellow countrymen, please watch us. We will never leave the ambers and hopes of new politics to die.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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