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[Editorial] Fear the Angry Crowd

Posted January. 25, 2004 23:09,   


People’s hearts were colder than the winter freeze during the Lunar New Year holiday, they say. Representatives visiting their local constituents could not bear to lift their heads and face comments of “It is really difficult to survive these days.” In addition, the distrust of the people toward the political circles reached its limit because of the numerous illicit fund scandals during the presidential election. The representatives felt as though they were on an apology trip.

That reaction is natural if we look back to the last year, through its conflicts and chaos. The all-consuming “code controversy,” the president’s leadership far from a harmonizing one, the oppositional parties’ failure to offer any hope or certainty, ceaseless political strife, a contracted economy… We are now paying the price for all of these. The growth rate, which was expected to reach 5 percent, halted at a 2 percent level, which resulted in a loss of 40,000 jobs nationwide. How are the people supposed to celebrate this New Year?

Above all, what people demand is the revival of the economy. The political world should now prove their assertion that there is no distinction between an opposition party and an governing party at least in their efforts to revive the economy. President Roh Moo-hyun and Grand National Party (GNP) Chairman Choe Byung-ryol said in their New Year press conference that their utmost goal is to revitalize the economy. However, their words are not enough. They need to offer explicit policies and support their words with sincere cooperation and action.

The people’s hearts also call for improvement with regard to politicians and their policies. The constituents consistently say that they “will vote for candidates, not for parties” in the general election in April. This is more encouraging than ever. The Special Committee on Political Reform of the National Assembly should promptly offer notable reform bills and respond to the people’s will.

The GNP should first probe the needs of the people before discussing a constitutional amendment for a decentralized presidential system. If they determine that an amendment is required for an election free of excessive fund-raising, they should specify it as their party policy and wait for the constituents’ choice with its public pledge at the general election. Without this measure, their proposal for a constitutional amendment will be subject to the criticism that it is solely a political strategy for the general election, far from the people’s appeals.