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[Editorial] Pres. Lee’s Dialogue With the People

Posted September. 10, 2008 03:28,   


The purpose of President Lee Myung-bak’s dialogue with the people is communication, but is also a chance to suggest his vision for the nation and strengthen his determination. If the period of being president-elect is included, Kim Dae-jung had four open dialogues with the people and Roh Moo-hyun eight. President Lee had his first yesterday. Though he had originally planned to do this on the 100th day of his term, the candlelight protests pushed the date back. Though a bit late, the dialogue was a precious chance for Lee to regain self-confidence, renew public faith, and recover from his early failures and confusion.

Lee has a clear way and direction to move forward. His goal is to revive the economy and lay the foundation for a more advanced Korea, a pledge he made while running for the presidency. Voters had strong faith in this promise and gave him a landslide victory. It’s high time that Lee keep his promise with deeds and performance.

Koreans can no longer tolerate hollow words. Lee should suggest concrete measures and a timeline to keep his promise. Consistency and execution will determine success or failure. If he just keeps watching how the wind blows instead of doing what should be done, his tenure could end without no results.

To begin with, the president should decide how to manage the nation. All governmental affairs are critical to running a nation, but he cannot deal with all pending issues at once. Lee should prioritize all pending issues and channel all resources and staff to the most significant matter. He should also not fear or avoid criticism. He should persuade when he needs to and overcome obstacles when required. He should be ready to weather all difficulty to run the nation given the string of challenges it faces.

Most of all, he should get rid of regulations that discourage investment. To boost the economy and advance the country, he should nurture growth potential and boost national competitiveness, which requires corporate investment. Deregulation also helps create jobs and stabilize the economy for the lower-income bracket. Without reform of the high-cost, low-efficiency public sector, he cannot realize his goal of advancing the nation. In other words, just announcing the privatization of state-run corporations is not enough. More aggressive measures are needed to reform state-run corporations.

Establishment of law and order should also come first. In a survey conducted by the Institute of Global Management, 80 percent of Korean CEOs said they are unsatisfied with the incumbent administration, citing “confusing policies mixed with capitalism and anti-capitalism” as the biggest reason. Last but not least, Lee should not delay ratifying the free trade agreement with the United States.