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[Editorial] Resignation: Not Enough

Posted July. 21, 2002 22:04,   


The government has cheated the public. It cut a deal with China to open up the Korean garlic market. Resignation of two officials is far from enough. A thorough investigation by a government agency or by the Congress should sort out who was at the top of the commanding structure.

Due to the Garlic scandal, the economic aid to President Han Duk-soo and Associate Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Seo Gyu-yong resigned. The other problem lies in that what the two said does not square with what other government officials involved contend. For example, the former Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Kim Sung-hoon argued that Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) had not briefed him on the agreement. On the other hand, the MFAT criticized him and contended that he had reviewed the Agreement and put his signature on it.

A thorough investigation should satisfy our questions such as who tells lie, which cabinet members other than those who resigned were involved and responsible, and whether or not the presidential aids did what they were supposed to do. It sounds totally absurd alleging that President had not been briefed regarding the term of “no more extension,” around which the whole talks were centered. We should know who really cheated the citizens.

The whole thing got off to a wrong start. Prior to invoking a safeguard against Chinese garlic three years ago in order not to lose the farmers’ votes, the government should have thought of the economy as a whole. In that respect, it sounds imprudent that Chairman of the Millennium Democratic Party Han Hwa-Kap promised to pull whatever strings possible to block the import of Chinese garlic as he did three years ago. His congressional district is a well-known place of garlic production. If politicians try to understand and resolve this matter by means of political formula, it would simply call for more trouble, which is not a thing a responsible politician would do.

China, which barely joined the WTO, should not repeat its old, abnormal habit of direct retaliations without filing a claim first with the WTO. We understand how China would feel about the burgeoning loss from trading with Korea. But China as a member of the WTO has a duty to fulfill the responsibilities imposed on a member country.