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Newspaper Debate Features Three Presidential Hopefuls

Posted May. 07, 2007 03:16,   

한국어

Regarding the construction of a multifunctional administrative city pursued by the current administration, former Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak of the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) said, “An administrative city as has currently been pushed for is not enough to achieve the expected effects, so we need a new plan that can help the whole of Chungcheong Province and produce substantial effects.”

Former GNP chairwoman Park Geun-hye stated, “I support the project and will continue to push ahead with it if I take office”; former Gyeonggi governor Sohn Hak-gyu, who recently left the GNP, called it “a state project that should be pursued without interference.”

The three presidential hopefuls gave the above answers to a question on the construction of a multifunctional administrative city as part of the “Newspaper Debate among Presidential Contenders” organized by the Dong-A Ilbo on May 6.

Asked whether a constitutional amendment should be pursued by the next administration, Lee replied, “After listening to public opinion, we should make a careful decision on power structure, the human rights issue and everything related.”

Park said she would “definitely keep the pledge to amend the Constitution to introduce a four-year double-term presidency,” and emphasized, “Instead of a ‘one-point’ constitutional amendment, it needs to be a 21st century constitutional amendment that further promotes our free market economy.”

Sohn, however, stated, “The next administration should put a top priority on reaching a public consensus on a constitutional amendment.”

On the National Security Law, the GNP’s possible presidential candidates opposed the scrapping of the controversial law, with Lee saying, “It is premature to repeal [the law]. Clauses that might be abused should be revised,” and Park reiterated, “Scrapping [the law] is not an option. Clauses that might infringe upon human rights should be revised in a reasonable manner.”

Meanwhile, Sohn said, “The National Security Law should be abolished and alternative legislation is needed.”

The two GNP presidential hopefuls noted, “It is problematic to expand humanitarian aid to North Korea before the North Korean nuclear issue is fully resolved,” while the former Gyeonggi governor claimed, “The government’s assistance should continue even while we wait for the North’s measures to put into practice what it agreed to do on the North Korean nuclear issue.”

With regard to recent moves to hold an inter-Korean summit meeting within this year, Lee stated he “opposes a politically-motivated pursuit [of a summit meeting between two Koreas] later in the presidency.”

Park emphasized, “I approve [of a summit meeting] if it is for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, but the public will not tolerate it if it is for gaining an upper hand in the presidential election.”

Sohn said, “I support [a summit meeting], but it should be held under the framework of international collaboration.”

When it came to possible withdrawal of the Zaytun Unit dispatched to Iraq, the three presidential contenders said in one voice, “In consideration of diplomatic ties, we should work hand in hand with multinational forces.”

Regarding North Korea’s delaying the implementation of the February 13 Agreement made in the latest round of the six-party talks, Lee argued, “If the North ultimately chooses to go against our expectations, we should collaborate internationally with six-party participants to have the country implement the agreement.”

Park stated, “We should respond by principle in line with North Korea’s step-by-step measures for implementing the agreement, but at the same time, the government should refrain itself from providing unilateral assistance beyond what was pledged in the six-party talks.”

Sohn said, “If North Korea’s attitude remains unchanged, we will have to levy sanctions in the form of a step-by-step approach based on international collaboration.”



taylor55@donga.com