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[Editorial] Prime Minister’s Public Apologies: Too Late, Too Little

[Editorial] Prime Minister’s Public Apologies: Too Late, Too Little

Posted November. 09, 2004 23:16,   


Two weeks after his downgrading remarks against the Grand National Party, which led to a stranded National Assembly, Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan released a statement in which he offered an apology. “As my replies to inquiries by lawmakers were in some ways out of the line, I sincerely apologize,” said he in the statement. Was this level of apology so hard for him that he left the legislature disrupted for two weeks?

The GNP will reportedly decide whether it will return to assembly sessions at a general meeting of its lawmakers. Whatever the bygones, we hope it decides to attend the sessions by putting national priorities ahead of other interests.

A return to the assembly by the GNP won’t exempt Prime Minister Lee from his blunders. If he, whose remarks caused the GNP to walk away, had apologized immediately, the standoff could have ended easily.

Although it later talked about his removal or resignation, the GNP initially said it would return to the assembly if the prime minister apologized. The public also demanded he should apologize first. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Lee resorted to a holding operation as if he did not make any blunder. While he caused the very problem, he arrogantly said he would decide whether to apologize or express regret after the ruling and opposition parties reached an agreement on whether he should apologize or not. His arrogance has further deteriorated the situation. The prime minister, who should oversee overall government business, disrupted regular assembly sessions.

President Roh Moo-hyun, who effectively appeared to be supportive of the prime minister, should have his share of the blame. It was regrettable to see both the Uri Party, which failed to exhibit any political negotiation skills and which just looked to the prime minister for any situation-reversing comments, and the National Assembly speaker, who effectively asked for slack to be cut for the prime minister while mediating negotiations.

Even if the National Assembly is back in session, it is evident that they will be doing a slipshod job. With session schedules delayed, a budgetary review will start belatedly. There are more than 600 bills to pass. On average, they will have to table 33 bills a day. The regime’s public credibility took another nosedive. Prime Minister Lee should sincerely look back at how his recklessness and arrogance wrought damage on the public.