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[Editorial] Roh Needs to Stay Consistent in Words and Actions

[Editorial] Roh Needs to Stay Consistent in Words and Actions

Posted May. 29, 2003 21:31,   


In a nation whose ultimate power belongs to the President, the cabinet and other staff should honor and follow the words of their chief. If they refuse to do so, the whole nation is sure to face serious problems. Regarding the Ministry of Education’s surrender to the demands of the Korean Teachers’ and Educational Workers’ Union over the adoption of the NEIS, President Roh reportedly said, "I wanted to show them who I am and to teach them a lesson. My words however, were ignored." His own comments, however, reveal the origin of the national chaos we are currently facing.

President Roh told his cabinet members not to cave in to demands and do what the law required of them. Nonetheless, Education Minister and a high-ranking official at the Blue House ignored Roh’s words and acted on their own. What’s the point of having a President and having him represent the country then? Does the problem lie in Roh’s leadership? Or, is it okay since the inner circle of men following Roh’s "code" did it? It’s a big IF, but isn’t it President Roh who is telling us lies? Whatever is true, one thing is clear: Something has gone wrong with the administration.

Under criticism are not the Roh administration’s efforts to resolve disputes through dialogue and compromise. Lack of principle on the part of the administration can be justifiably criticized. No dialogue or compromise can bridge the principles of the "rule of the law." The Roh administration however has totally failed to honor these principles in the past three months since taking office. His administration has always caved in to the selfish demands of interest groups and labor unions. It is damaging to the rule of law to hype up undisciplined compromise as productive results, and its side effects will only hurt the nation by causing more confusion.

His whimsical and zigging-zagging speech also adds more fuel to the social and administrative confusion. As to the NEIS, he snapped at the surrender to begin with. But later on the same day, he changed his mind and said, "It was an acceptable compromise." He also carelessly said, "I kind of exaggerated to please the Americans," regarding his behavior during the recent U.S. trip. This comment creates plenty of room for misunderstanding. This is not behavior expected of a national leader.

Whenever his words are not honored and whenever he contradicts previous statements, South Korean citizens feel insecure and anxious. President Roh should hold accountable those who disgraced his order. In addition, he has to speak in the clearest manner possible so that his men do not misunderstand him in the future.