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[Editorial] President Roh Comes to Grips with Domestic Politics

[Editorial] President Roh Comes to Grips with Domestic Politics

Posted May. 21, 2003 21:54,   


President Roh Moo-hyun is attempting a change in national politics following a seemingly successful diplomatic visit to the U.S. which was followed by the illegal protest on May 18. The President is currently putting his efforts into changing domestic policy. He ordered a tougher stance for those who led the National Federation of Student Councils (NFSC) demonstration and the collective actions of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU); issued a warning to the National Human Rights Commission`s act, which went well beyond its authority; and talked about a reevaluation concerning the rights of labor unions from a mutual perspective.

It is notable that President Roh Moo-hyun labeled the NFSC demonstration as a `mess` and the KTU`s request to abolish the National Education Information System (NEIS) as `self-righteous and extreme.` His remarks are construed by many that he has finally started to look at the country in terms of national crisis caused by lax discipline. He even said, “If the situation gets worse, I might not be able to serve as President.”

Although a few parties who backed him during the election last year see the move as an act of betrayal, accusing him of having lost his identity, the President should bear no heed. Rather, the orders he gave, albeit belated, will force change in domestic politics, which was inevitable anyway. He is holding to the law as well as his own principles and common sense. The change in diplomatic lines regarding national security too can be seen as an unavoidable shift towards pragmatism for the nation`s interests.

The fundamental reason for the current crisis is that measures have been put into place which ignore law, order, principles, and common sense in the name of reform. The feature of such measures is obviously part of a collective, selfish mentality on the part of officials. Mr. Roh was right to have said, “Everyone trying to wield their own power paralyzes state functions.” The solution to overcome this is quite easy: Korean society should return to normal.

If law and order are respected and principles and common sense are widely accepted, this new `crisis management` will occur without others and without any special acts. The government should never be pushed around, especially when considering the recent strike by the Korean Cargo Workers Federation. It is therefore urgent for the government to deal firmly with the strike by unionized public officials whose votes are scheduled for May 21