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[Editorial] Complete Transfer of Capital?

Posted June. 09, 2004 20:58,   


A tentative plan on the relocation of the administrative capital announced by a presidential committee indicated that 85 public institutions would move to the new capital. It goes without saying that this is the first complete transfer of a national capital in 600 years. Because, without mentioning Cheong Wa Dae and governmental departments, the National Assembly and Constitutional institutions like the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court are also included this time.

Even though President Roh Moo-hyun continued to stress that it is just a relocation of an administrative capital even before he was elected as president, nobody doubts that it is a complete capital transfer. Even the committee chairman, Kim An-je, admitted, ”It is correct if both the legislative body and the judicial body move to a new capital.”

Considering that capital relocation was one of the major presidential election pledges made by Roh, his election victory may mean Roh already has national approval in his hands. However, the relocation of the administrative capital and the complete transfer of the capital are totally different stories. In fact, it is problematic to claim its legitimacy resting on the fact that a bill regarding this issue was passed in the National Assembly because parliamentary lawmakers were, rather than bolstering such an initiative, on edge about whether they lost votes in the upcoming 17th general election from Chungchoeng Province.

Furthermore, an estimate of relocation costs, which was calculated to be around four trillion to six trillion won when presidential campaigning was in full swing, has jumped to a whopping 45 trillion won. Some have even estimated the costs to run as high as 50 trillion to 100 trillion won. For removal expenses and building a governmental complex alone, the committee estimated 3.4 trillion won would have to be spent. The government, in addition, plans to invest eight trillion won to build new cities, 15 trillion won to equip cultural projects, 110 trillion won to develop farming and fishing villages, and 200 trillion won for national defense. How could it raise such a prodigious amount of money?

It took 134 years for Brazil to complete its capital relocation project, and Australia spent 10 years just selecting a new capital site. If the government wants to carry out this project with national blessings, and if the government wants the relocation to be remembered as a conspicuous achievement of president, the first thing it has to do is to prove its legitimacy and justness and obtain national approval for the project. Otherwise, their initiative will end up wasting national power as well as dividing national opinion.