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[Editorial] Expectations for `8.15 Festivities`

Posted August. 14, 2001 08:10,   


The nation`s attention to President Kim Dae Jung`s August 15 festivities probably has little to do with the people’ interest in the management of national affairs in the latter half of the current administration’s term. They are also not interested in his `What Should Be Done Speech` that explains how the administration has diligently worked to improve the economy and stabilize the life of middle class citizens. Economic recovery and stability are given duties of any government administration and their improvement is a necessity.

The problem is whether or not such improvements will be made with the consent and voluntary approval of the people. At a time when society is becoming more and more diverse, and where communication between socio-economic classes, neighborhoods, and generations is more complicated, it is impossible to achieve harmony across all communities. Nonetheless, mutual understanding and discord must be controlled and resolved in order to move toward cooperation. This is why reform is more difficult and slower than revolution.

President Kim intends to make an appeal to the people to `draw together the people’s power to revive the economy`. If he recognizes that economic revival is difficult without a unified nation, a humble self-examination is in order as to why such national solidarity has been so lacking. That is the only way that the appeal will carry any weight. Our society is presently facing a situation where two hostile factions are squaring off. Although the causes behind the situation may be complex, it is difficult to deny that the major part of responsibility goes to the administration in power.

This administration has preached the moral duty of reform rather than working towards national unity. Anyone who opposed or criticized the rhetoric, it condemned as a backlash from conservative vested interests. Rather than working to persuade the opposition party to cooperate, the administration relied too heavily on numerical superiority. It weakened the National Assembly and political party and accommodated to a populism that depends on external influence.

There was small progress for genuine democracy in such a situation. The DLP leading members’ rejection of the rule of the people is another such instance.

The underlying cause behind the present debate leading to factional divisions in national opinion must be the `discussion encouragement` that they used to justify taxation. Ultimately, the path to resolving the discord and opposition is a restoration of the people’s confidence in the administration. The long delayed overhaul of national affairs must also begin with restoring confidence. President Kim must face up to the fundamental reasons behind the present social crisis. The August 15 festivities will have to convey a message that seeks to restore confidence and unify the nation on the basis of such honest acknowledgment.