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[Editorial] Lee Administration Must Pick Up the Pace

Posted August. 21, 2008 06:31,   


On the half-year performance of his administration, President Lee Myung-bak told a Cabinet meeting Monday, “I consider the past six months a warm-up period. I didn’t idle away; rather I worked much more than everybody thinks.” The first six months in office, however, is a critical period for the Lee administration that cannot be judged as lightly as the president did in the meeting.

Lee must reflect on what he has done over the past eight months since the inauguration of his transition committee. He also needs a cool-headed analysis on why the momentum for his administration weakened and where things started going haywire. Though he said he warmed up before setting on his ambitious plans, these defensive comments ring hollow for low-income earners whose livelihoods are on the verge of collapse. In an interview with Yahoo! Korea, the president said the domestic economy will recover around the end of next year, but this prediction makes him sound more like an economic commentator rather than an “economy president.”

Though the Lee administration was inaugurated with the pledge of reviving the economy, it has failed to produce visible results. The drumbeat of deregulation promises has waned without boosting corporate investment and creating jobs.

Unexpected candlelight protests have also acted as a ball and chain on his reform agenda, which he had planned to push early in his term. A prolonged parliamentary vacuum has also prevented measures to help the people’s livelihood from being dealt with. For all the difficulties, however, things would have been different if the ruling party and the government had set policy priorities by coordinating their differing stances and pushed with their plans without being swayed by temporary turbulence. The presidential office and each ministry are also to blame because they dragged their feet on pressing issues to avoid offending the opposition.

Though belated, the government should shake off its ineptness and take up matters head-on. If certain polices are in the nation`s interest, the government must push them through despite objections from opposition parties. The job of judgment lies in the public, not political circles.

In this regard, keen attention is being paid to the new policy drive of the government, including one to bolster the real estate market; upcoming measures to boost the people’s livelihood; the comprehensive plan for the rice processing industry; the second-stage plan for public sector reform; the promotion of autonomy in higher education; and the comprehensive energy plan. We sincerely hope that these new initiatives help revive the flagging economy and ease the people`s economic burden. Breaking away from its lackluster performance over the past six months, the government must transform itself as a government that can speedily devise and implement measures for the people.