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[Editorial] Do Not Overlook Senior Opinion Leaders’ Plea

[Editorial] Do Not Overlook Senior Opinion Leaders’ Plea

Posted September. 09, 2004 21:57,   


“The Emergency Declaration to Defend Liberal Democracy,” which was announced yesterday with endorsements by about 1,000 senior opinion leaders, contains the diagnosis and prescription for the status of this country. It is a bitter piece of advice that everybody should respect.

“The national identity of the Republic of Korea, liberal democracy grounded in representative democracy and the market economy, is facing a significant challenge,” said the senior leaders. “Unilateral attempts to relocate the capital, repeal the National Security Law, right historical wrongs, and reform the press should be suspended, and all energy of the country should be concentrated on the resolution of imminent economic and national-security issues.”

What a clear understanding of the status quo! There has been no other period of time when concern about the national identity was so deep. They went further, saying, “The country is falling into the hands of former activists and a pro-North Korean, left-leaning, and anti-American force disguised as progressive.” We can image their desperation. We feel bowdlerized.

The president must come out and answer, as the senior leaders say, “Why did he and former activists overlook urgent national tasks and revive an old specter of the left-right ideology struggle of the 1940s in the name of shedding new light on history to overkill the very roots of the Republic of Korea?”

“Aided by some civil society groups and a biased mass media, the president and the ruling party has divided the public, which is already exhausted by hardships in livelihood, into ‘your side’ and ‘mine,’” the statement reads. The public would agree to it. If the president has exercised leadership of unity, such remarks would not have been made.

Their concerns turned into a proposal: “Left-biased measures in the sphere of national security and the economy should be stopped. The constitutional order-grounded foundation for national unity should be laid out to revamp confidence in the state.” This is the right direction. The mention of “left bias” won’t find much support, and anyone who gives such an impression should repent. All the confusion and division are due to public distrust of the current regime.

We hope the bitter advice offered by more than 1,000 senior members of society is not downplayed as a complaint made by conservatives with vested interests. They are the main players who led the country in the middle of a tragic war and national division. What can we expect from it if the regime, held hostage by its own bias, refuses to swallow this bitter medication that would eventually help it.