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Lee Pledges Pragmatic Policies

Posted February. 26, 2008 03:21,   


President Lee Myung-bak took the oath as Korea’s 17th president on Monday during the inauguration ceremony held at the National Assembly. Some 50,000 guests were invited to the ceremony, including foreign dignitaries.

Major changes in both the private and public sectors are expected to take place with the launch of the conservative Lee administration, which would seek economic revival and national advancement. The first CEO-turned president will begin his five-year single term, following a decade of left-leaning rule.

In his inaugural address titled, “Together We Shall Open a Road to Advancement,” President Lee presented five major directions for state affairs, saying the new administration will serve the people; invigorate the economy and unite society; enliven culture and advance science and technology; strengthen security and lay the foundation for peaceful unification; carry out duties as a member of the international community and contribute to the prosperity of all peoples.

“As the president of Korea, at this juncture when we’re beginning another 60 years of the republic, I hereby declare 2008 as the starting year for the advancement of the Republic of Korea,” said Lee. “I declare our solemn start towards a society that cherishes the fruits of industrialization and democratization and towards a country that abounds in wealth, caring and dignity.”

“We hesitated and experienced failure at times over the past decade. But now, we will start anew. Not only will the joy of our achievements, but also the pain of our failures will be our asset for a new beginning,” said Lee. “We must move from the age of ideology into the age of pragmatism.”

President Lee stressed the importance of progress while maintaining harmony, saying, “In making Korea an advanced country, we must not discriminate among ourselves or against others. I will melt conflicts between classes and resolve militant strives by pursuing pragmatism in brining cooperation and harmony.”

Lee also hinted a drastic reform, saying, “I beseech the people to take a more active role to brining a change so that we can surmount this critical moment in history without difficulty. Though it is going to be difficult and painful, we must swiftly change at a faster rate. And the direction of change is openness, autonomy and creativity.”

On economic revival, Lee said, “We must secure new growth engines to make the economy grow vigorously and to create more jobs.” He also mentioned specific plans to revitalize the economy, such as deregulations and privatization of government functions; introduction of competition in the public sector; tax cuts; creation of an environment where entrepreneurs can invest freely; autonomous improvement in labor-management culture; promotion of the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises; increase in national wealth through free trade agreements; and enhancing competitiveness in agricultural and fishery industries.

With regard to inter-Korean relations, Lee said, “If North Korea gives up its nuclear ambition and chooses the path to openness, a new horizon will be opened up in inter-Korean cooperation.” “The political leaders of the two Koreas must contemplate and share their views on what they can do to make the lives of 70 million Koreans happy. If it is to discuss these issues, then the two leaders should meet whenever necessary and talk with an open mind.”

Regarding foreign relations, Lee said, “We will have a greater vision and take a more active stance in cooperating and exchanging with the international community.” He went on to say, “We will work to develop and further strengthen traditional friendly ties with the U.S. into a future-oriented partnership and, based on the reinforced bilateral relations, we will also strengthen our strategic alliance.”

President Lee also added that he will seek peace and mutual prosperity with neighboring countries, including Japan, China and Russia, by promoting exchange and cooperation with them.

Among the foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony were Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Mongolian President Enkhbayar Nambar, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.