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[Editorial] Is President Roh’s Top Priority Really Economic Stability and Improving Livelihood?

[Editorial] Is President Roh’s Top Priority Really Economic Stability and Improving Livelihood?

Posted January. 04, 2004 23:41,   


President Roh Moo-hyun, in his new year’s message, said, “I will make all efforts to mitigate the difficulties of people’s livelihood by revitalizing the terrible domestic economy and do my best for fairly managing the upcoming election campaign.” However, the actions he has taken since then does not seem to be going well with his promises.

The problem is that, rather than economic stability and people’s livelihood, his concern is still harboring April’s National Assembly election. President Roh—who has a history of being warned by the National Election Commission (NEC) due to his remarks, “Supports for Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) will help the opposition Grand National Party (GNP)”—has stirred up controversy again by making another remark which insinuates his attempts to intervene in the election campaign. He said, “I would like to ask the NEC what I should and should not do for the Uri Party.” Such words can be interpreted as him playing a role in the upcoming election to some extent.

His remarks have triggered serious prompt backtracking from political spheres—such as “Roh failed to stay neutral in the election campaigning and violated the Constitution,” and “His remarks are against the election laws, which prohibit public servants from involving election campaigning.” In fact, article 60 of the election laws prohibits any election campaigning by public servants except for a National Assemblyman and a local assemblyman. The duty of the president, the head of the administration, is to keep the election laws and to respect NEC’s decision, not to raise questions on its decisions.

President Roh said, at the workshop of ministers and vice ministers, “The government’s official community is encircled by the press. In 2004, we should leap the barrier.” Even though his intention was to enhance the role of press as heralding the government’s performance to the public, his saying seems to instigate growing tensions between the press and the government. The duty of the press is not to encircle the government official community, but to report government’s achievements as well as its mistakes.

There are a couple of reasons why approval ratings for President Roh dropped to around 20 percent last year. Of them, the most responsible ones are his inappropriate sayings and doings, and troubles in his leaderships causing political divergence, rather than political cooperation and convergence—this is a prevailing comment on the problems of his government.

In order to avoid any mistake as such, President Roh should be careful in his speech and, as a result, he will find the way to avoid getting himself into hot water. Besides, he should forget any concerns about the election and put all energy into political affairs. If he follows this way, he will find his approval ratings increasing and the outcomes of the upcoming elections favorable. This is also the only way to meet the public’s request delivered through e-mail—“Please, administer the affairs of State with more caution and in stable way.” (Cheong Wa Dae Briefing, 2004/1/2)