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Candidate Discernment

Posted April. 05, 2004 22:09,   


“A candidate’s mouth can build a bridge even if there’s no river.’

That is a joke about candidates who pledge themselves to whoever helps them win an election.

Rep. Kim Man-je of the GNP suggested guidelines to screen out fake campaign promises.

Kim has served as the Minister of the Economic Planning Board and Deputy Prime Minister, the president of POSCO, and the chairman of the Policy Board. He has declared that he will not run for election.

“Representatives are the ones who have to understand more and be interested in drawing up policies and making laws,” he said. “If we elect someone who suggests only minor policies, he may fudge on his campaign promises.”

He also confessed, “Many district leaders care more about small local projects because we have the single-member electorate system. I used to be a candidate four years ago, and I couldn’t help focusing on promises for the town.

“In particular, people are extremely concerned about dissolving a greenbelt zone and widening roads around the town. It is natural for candidates to cling to those kinds of promises. Voters in the country tend to more care about what the candidate has done for the region,” he added.

One of the leading figures in MDP anonymously said, “When I first go out on horseback, I made promises that I could not keep because of competition in making good public pledges.”

He added, “If there is a candidate from the government party who says he can do everything with the president’s help, and a candidate from the opposition party who speaks fluently about his ‘wish list’ without considering the budget, they are absolutely lying.”

Possible fake promises are as follows: Impossible promises such as “I will have direct negotiations with the U.S. President to block the relocation of U.S. troops,” big talk of solving a long-cherished desire of the town, and conflicting promises made at the same time.

Sung-Won Park swpark@donga.com