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Lee Avoids Fighting with Roh

Posted January. 30, 2008 03:29,   


With less than one month left in his presidency term, President Roh Moo-hyun criticized the government downsizing bill proposed by President-elect Lee Myung-bak submitted to the National Assembly at a press conference on Jan. 28 and hinted to veto the bill.

In response, President-elect Lee sent a message that seeks President Roh’s understanding through his chief of staff Rep. Yim Tae-hee. Simply put, Roh stirred up the fight but Lee politely declined to accept the challenge.

During the last presidential election, Lee faced confrontations with Roh on numerous occasions. However, Lee avoided confrontations with President Roh on every occasion by showing either indifference or respect. Some of Lee’s close aides called it “Lee’s way of defending against Roh.”

▽ Don’t Hate People

Sources say that the president-elect created his own principle when he entered the presidential race in July 2006; “Do not challenge the incumbent president.” Lee knew better than anyone that none of the presidential hopefuls that pitted against the incumbent president won the presidential election.

“I wish I would not become a president who leaves the office before the end of his term,” said Roh in November 2006 at a cabinet meeting while addressing the issue of his future course of action. Roh has repeatedly mentioned the possibility of resigning every year since he said, “I can’t do this president job,” in May 2003, only a few month after he was sworn in as president.

Referring to Roh’s remarks, Lee said, “He probably said that because he was upset. We should remain calm. It was just a matter of expressing personal feelings. If we assume that he made the remark as Roh Moo-hyun, himself, don’t you think he is eligible to make such statement?”

▽ Don’t Confront the President

Even if Roh harshly criticizes Lee often with vulgar words, Lee tends to respond with an understatement.

President Roh repeatedly criticized the revision of the government organization law from Jan. 28 to 29. He said, “I fear that the restructuring of the government agencies will strike a severe blow to the welfare spending,”

Roh also criticized Lee’s “small-government policy” on Tuesday at a luncheon with representatives of senior citizens, saying “Budgets for balanced regional development and for the poor and social minorities are also hanging in the balance. However, Lee didn`t show any particular response.

Roh also said in his New Year’s address this year, “Don’t you think it will cause a Tsunami in education?” “It is doubtful that one big civil engineering project can make our economy flourish.” During the 80 minute event, Roh spent 52 minutes disparaging Lee’s various policies.

However, Lee did not respond. Lee’s spokesman Joo Ho-young briefly said, “Lee made many campaign pledges during the election and the people supported him based on the pledges with an overwhelming gap of 5.3 million votes.” Joo only took ten seconds to make the comment.

Upon receiving an honorary doctorate from Wonkang University in June 2007, Roh said, “There was one thing that troubled me. When I received the certificate today, I noticed that (the acronym) ‘Myungbak’ (which also means honorary doctor in Korean) was written on it. I felt as if I became “Roh Myung-bak.’ Anyway, If Lee Myung-bak can do as much as Roh Myung-bak, he will be fine. Hey, don’t do that. I’m better than you. It will not be easy for you to carry out duties as a president as much as I have done.”

In this regard, Lee only commented, “I think it is now time for Roh to focus on his own duties.” According to a rumor, the presidential transition committee did not receive an official briefing from Cheong Wa Dae in an attempt to avoid conflicts with Roh.