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“Are We Selecting a New Governor?”

Posted July. 25, 2005 03:04,   


The government pays a great deal of attention to the outcome of the voting regarding the reorganization of the administrative structure of Jeju-do because it is expected to influence an ongoing initiative that attempts to declare Jeju-do as a special autonomous province, as well as impact on the voting in other local regions such as a vote that will try to collect residents’ opinions on the establishment of radioactive waste disposal facilities and a planned vote to determine the feasibility of the combination of Cheongju and Cheongwon-gun.

However, Jeju people seem to be paying little attention to this vote despite the voting date coming just around corner.

On top of that, officials of Jeju-do and other four related regions that have different positions on the combination are showing signs of a strong power struggle.

Last Sunday morning at Hallim Harbor, Bukjeju-gun, Jeju, Lee, 63, after getting off a boat after finishing a fishing trip, responded to a question regarding the voting by saying, “Who are we selecting? Are we having a by election for the governor of Bukjeju-gun?”

Lee seems to have wrongly regarded the voting for the reorganization of Jeju administrative structure as a by election of the Bukjeju-gun governor, who was dead last month.

Even though banners that inform people of the vote are hanging in the every corner of Jeju-do, and official notices are being put on bulletin boards, Jeju people are showing no signs of enthusiasm for the vote.

In addition, some officials who object to the restructuring due to worries over the reduction of the number of positions are intentionally hanging banners in places where they are hardly noticeable in the hopes of voting interest fizzling out.

Kim, 41, a taxi driver in Namjeju-gu, complained by saying, “Without informing us of the advantages people can enjoy after the reorganizations, officials are just struggling with each other for the sake of their own interests.”

Therefore, the frictions among the officials in involved regions, ambiguous terms about the administration related to the reorganization, and people’s indifference are spurring a cold response to the vote.

Since voter turnout is expected to very low, attention is not being given to the outcome of the vote but the voting rate itself.

Oh Young-kyo, the minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs, said at Jeju last Friday, “When the voting rate is above 50 percent, we can say that the result reflects opinions of the people of Jeju to some extent.”

Kim Tae-hwan, a governor of Jeju-do, appealed to voters in Jeju by stressing, “The voting rate will be used as a barometer of measuring how much self-governance we can achieve based on participation,” adding, “If we can’t open ballot boxes due to a low voting rate, the pride of the people of Jeju will take a beating.”

If the voting rate is lower than a third of all eligible voters (402,003), the voting becomes void. However, contrary to other ordinary elections, government officials are not allowed to aggressively induce voters to vote.

A source from a Jeju-do election management committee said, “There was an authoritative interpretation that says it is against the law for government officials to induce voters to vote.”

11. “Are We Selecting a New Governor?” jy788@donga.com