Go to contents

[Editorial] President Who Knows Almost Nothing

Posted July. 23, 2002 22:22,   


All we got was doubtfulness, listening to Lee Ki-ho’s (then Chief Economic Aid to President) statement that he had not reported to President about the agreement not to renew the safeguard against the Chinese garlic. His statement in a nutshell indicates that a matter of such seriousness as to determine the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of farmers was decided without President’s knowledge. Thus, according to Lee, President Kim is a president who knew almost nothing: he was not informed “in advance” of his sons’ corruption involvement, and not notified of an important agreement with another country like this. This whole debacle leads us to doubt whether the governance was and is really centered around him.

The Garlic Scandal makes us realize where stands this government, which is hobbling from lame duck and does not feel any responsibility toward the public. The public is outraged, which is exemplified by the demonstration of some 4,000 farmers in the downtown Seoul yesterday. Problematic is the government’s inability at the talks. But more serious is the attitude of government officials who, out of fear of the public’s criticism, are just trying to dump the responsibility upon others once the truth transpired. And that is why we feel more enraged. On top of all these, President himself denied his knowledge about the garlic matter. We doubt whether citizens could find solace in Kim’s remark, “The Garlic Scandal was caused by the insincere attitude of the government.”

In anyway, even President acknowledged of the government’s wrongdoing. The government officials should investigate in detail how the talks were made and through which channel the results were reported. Thus they have to help us know who should be held accountable. Especially, they must make us understand why President was not informed. We want to know whether it was due to the failure of the whole reporting system within the government or due to the misjudgment of the presidential aids. We also want to know whether the GNP’s allegation is true, that the government is just trying to cover up through closed-door cooperation to avoid responsibilities.

Of course, when the truth comes out, people in charge of this matter should be held accountable to citizens’ satisfaction. We do not want to see public servants get away with their responsibilities, who lie to citizens and just try everything in order not to be held accountable for their misconducts. This is a best way to prevent a miserable situation like this from happening again where a handful of public servants’ wrongdoing harms tens of thousands of citizens.