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Mayor Says Roh’s Team Lacks Substance

Posted June. 02, 2006 04:27,   


On June 1, Lee Myong-Bak, the incumbent Seoul mayor, emphasized, “ Economic policy needs to be separated from political tactics (by the incoming president.) Economic policies should be established in the consideration of economic theory.”

In an exclusive interview with this paper, only a month away from his relinquishment of office, Lee judged that “the Roh administration is short on substance but long on rhetoric. Running against the international tide, Korea increases tax rates, while the rest of the world cuts tax rates, including the corporation tax, in a bid to stimulate investment and encourage domestic demand to make up the tax yields.

“Since the current government has failed to build policy confidence, companies fear making investments. Real estate policy particularly targeted for the Gangnam area has failed due to a lack of policy consistency. Against the backdrop, the government only takes tax measures,” he criticized.

As for inter-Korea issues, premising that the two sides are little prepared for reunification, Lee strongly raised his opposition to exploiting North Korean issues. He urged Kim Dae-Jung, the former president, to explain the purpose of his visit to Pyongyang to Korean citizens.

In terms of the issue related to the revision of the constitution, unless national identity in the current constitution is untouched, he agrees with the necessity of the revision to reflect the socio-economic changes in the 21st Century, but opposes the timing because it will be a political tactic for the incoming presidential election. “In this regard, it is desirable to make it a campaign promise” he added.

The Mayor of the Seoul stands against the move of the political landscape among the ruling party, criticizing that reshuffling only for their political interest would be in vain and leave the public anxious.”

Concerning the next presidential election, he called Park Geun-hye, the chairwoman of the Grand National party (GNP), a good competitor in corporation with him and clarified his position over the inner party primary for winning the nomination from the party. He said that splitting the GNP in two only meant infidelity to the public supporting the GNP.

At a time when a lame duck is usually concerned, he mentioned that he would declare his official run for the presidential election some time after this year.

Meanwhile, the incumbent mayor deems the result of the landslide victory of the opposition party in the May 31 local elections as an aspiration of Korean citizens for a change of the power in the next presidential election.

As for the hotly contested issues of past history, he adopts a historically driven view that the Roh administration’s policy on clarifying past history boils down to the future, citing that history has both bright and dark sides, and that conflict between the past and the present only victimizes the future.

Yong-Gwan Jung Dong-Ki Sung yongari@donga.com esprit@donga.com