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Ex-PM Criticizes Politics of Division

Posted December. 21, 2006 06:54,   


Former Prime Minister Goh Kun said on December 20, “The current government has worsened the economic environment by favored appointments and creating division, wallowing in self-righteousness and incompetence, changing relations with the U.S. for the worse and resulting in political dissention and conflicting ideologies.”

In an exclusive interview with the Dong-A Ilbo, Goh stated, “The main problem of our politics is in prodding the citizens to take sides and creating a division in order to hold on to power. It is not a politics of sharing, but of division.”

He said, “The focus of reform in the 21st Century should be overcoming the Cold War legacy of dichotomous black-and-white rationalizing,” and added, “we should move beyond the debates of anti-U.S. vs. pro-U.S., subordinate vs. independent relationships, and globalization vs. anti-globalization, and strive for neutral pragmatism and objective utilitarianism.”

On the real estate policy of the current government, he said, “Rather than focusing on the basic housing supply for houseless families, the government waged a war against housing prices in a particular area—Gangnam in Seoul—through excessive taxation and the transaction regulations, and failed miserably,” and criticized that “the government should have supported market functions, but instead warred with the market.”

He further emphasized, “We should regain our growth momentum within ten years, and attain a per capita income of $35,000, while joining the ranks of the top ten global economic powers,” and that “to do so we must offer a national strategy through a uniting leadership while concentrating national resources.”

Goh pointed out, “As the ruling party failed to function properly, the current political structure is monopolized by the Grand National Party,” and that “a new, alternative political force should be introduced.”

On forming a new party, he said, “I intend to exclude both the extreme leftist and Cold War conservative factions that have denied the legitimacy of Korea, and create a party bonding the country based on neutral pragmatism that may embrace both the reformist conservatives and rational progressives.”

He said, “It would not be right for the new party to be affected by the internal dissentions (within the existing party),” and added, “The schedule will be flexible according to the political trends, but it will be completed by March or April next year.”

On the results of the polls, where Goh ranks third among the potential presidential candidates, he noted, “My support base was weakened by speculations that I would be a candidate for the ruling party, where my support rate was linked to the support rate for the party,” and added, “it will go up when the link is broken, and a new alternative political force is shaped.”

On the statement of Kim Geun-tae, chair of the Uri Party, that “former Prime Minister Goh’s policy towards North Korea has a room for discussion,” he said, “I concur with the general trend of the Sunshine Policy. But with North Korea nuclear test, there should be a change. The interactions should continue, but we also need countermeasures for North Korea failing to keep its promise on denuclearization. We can discuss this point.”

Goh said, “It is not appropriate for the current government whose term is nearly over to select a specific time period for regaining the wartime operational control,” and “The issue should be negotiated by a new administration after some serious considerations for the defense expansion projects and resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue.”

He emphasized, “The various committees formed in the current government should have created roadmaps on specific policies and organized the policies from that point. The government structure is ‘multilayered’. The multilayered hierarchical structure should be abolished, and altered into a structure that is performance and client-oriented one.”

yongari@donga.com leon@donga.com