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10-second convictions

Posted April. 19, 2017 07:18,   

Updated April. 19, 2017 07:24


“Moo Doo Jeol (no boss day)” and “Gil Gwajang (a director who disappeared on his way).” These words represent the administrative inefficiency of Sejong City where most government agencies have been relocated. As ministers, deputy ministers and director generals are often absent, the city is even called government officials’ paradise. The parliamentary audit in 2015 revealed that officials spent over 78 billion won (68.2 million U.S. dollars) solely for domestic business travel and commuting for three years.

The late President Roh Moo-hyun pledged to create an administrative capital during his presidential campaign in 2002, by saying, “I benefited from the pledge.” Former President Lee Myung-bak, who was also in favor of the relocation to Sejong City in his election campaign in 2007, had opposed the idea when he served as Seoul mayor.

As Mr. Lee released a revised proposal on Sejong City, stressing a long-term plan, in 2008, former President Park Geun-hye opposed it, insisting on the original version. As the leader of the then ruling Grand National Party in 2005 who legislated the Special Act on the Administrative City, she said, “Politics is all about trust and what would it mean without trust?” Chung Mong-joon, the then leader of the ruling party, tried to persuade her that the government can be trusted when it fixes its mistake, citing an old Chinese proverbial story about Misaeng who was drowned to death after waiting for his girlfriend under the bridge to keep his promise. However, it was of no use.

Some began to criticize U.S. President Donald Trump’s inconsistency. The New York Times ran an editorial on Saturday titled “Trump’s 10-second convictions," pointing out 15 pledges that he reversed including his rejection to any intervention in Syria. It said his only consistency is "betrayal." Meanwhile, another article on the same day said his supporters rather welcome his change as it implies that he now sees the reality.

President Park was confident about trust and principles. While they were success factors during the 2012 presidential election, she fell from grace because of her inflexibility in communications. It shows how important it is to see if a president’s convictions are in the interest of the country and its people, instead of considering whether he changed his convictions or not. We should be wary of both changing words for the sake of short-term interests and sticking to the belief that one should stick to principles. Voters should be really cautious.