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Gov’t Determined to Make a Fresh Start

Posted June. 12, 2008 01:18,   


President Lee Myung-bak said on Wednesday that the government is determined to make a “fresh start.”

“I believe that Korea can successfully overcome the current crisis better than any other country if the people, businesses, workers, government and political circles all unite," Lee said during a meeting with representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises at Cheong Wa Dae.

On the looming economic downturn, Lee said, “A sense of crisis is being felt as the future is uncertain and oil prices are rising. It is hard to predict whether oil prices will reach 150 dollars or 200 dollars (a barrel) . . . we may have to take emergency measures (against high oil prices).”

On the candlelight vigil staged on Tuesday night, the president said, "Watching last night’s rally gave me a lot to think about. I was one of the first to participate in the pro-democracy movement when I was a student."

President Lee’s remarks were seen as a sign of his willingness to focus on national unity and overcome the economic slump through a major reshuffle in his administration.

Cheong Wa Dae is also planning to change its priorities on national agendas. The government will concentrate its effort on improving people`s livelihoods and calming public anger over skyrocketing oil prices and the American beef issue. The cross-country canal project and overhaul of the public sector will be put on the backburner for the time being.

On the shakeup of the Cabinet and his aides, Lee told former President Kim Young-sam in a telephone conversation Monday that a large-scale reshuffle will be made.

“Lee sought advice from former President Kim when he called Lee to express his concerns over street rallies,” said an official of the ruling Grand National Party.

“Everything has to be changed. Take it as an opportunity to replace them with qualified people,” Kim was quoted as saying by the official.

In a meeting with his senior secretaries, the president said, “The people are worried about a possible vacuum in administrative affairs following the mass resignations of the chief presidential secretaries and the Cabinet . . . I urge you to make sure that there will be no vacuum in the administration.”

Lee also said he felt relieved to see Tuesday night`s massive street rally end peacefully. “I worried a lot because many people with different views staged rallies in one place."

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