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[Editorial] Minister Kang`s Absence at G20 Meeting

Posted November. 10, 2008 08:25,   


Strategy and Finance Minister Kang Man-soo failed to attend yesterday’s annual meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Brazil, and instead sent his deputy minister Shin Je-yoon. This meeting is a prelude to the G20 summit in Washington Saturday. Kang missed a critical opportunity and abandoned his obligation by not attending at a time when international cooperation is needed more than ever to overcome the global financial crisis.

The International Monetary Fund forecast major advanced economies including those of the United States and the European Union will see economic growth of minus 0.3 percent next year, the lowest since World War II. The meeting was expanded to include G20 countries because the G7 alone cannot deal with the global crisis. With this in mind, the Korean government has constantly emphasized the need to expand the meeting.

Deputy Minister Shin attended the meeting instead of Kang, however. The finance ministers of the United States and Japan were also absent, and another round of the meeting is slated for Thursday in Washington. It is doubtful, however, whether the world will be convinced of Korea’s commitment to tackling the global crisis. Korea’s lack of commitment is more troubling than Kang’s absence.

His failure to attending the G20 meeting made no sense. Opposition parties last week insisted that Kang attend the National Assembly interpellation session. As the ruling Grand National Party agreed to this demand, he caved in and did not go to the G20 meeting. As the ruling and opposition parties agreed on an investigation into a ministry official contacting the Constitutional Court, Kang did not dare challenge their demand. The minister was blocked from going because of a political dispute in which the Korean people have no interest in.

The G20 meeting is a significant international forum where pending issues determining the nation’s future are discussed. It would have been more appropriate if the National Assembly questioned Kang after he attended the meeting.

The minister is also irresponsible. Infuriated last week by the floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties saying, “Only cowards run away,” Kang immediately decided to stay in Korea. What is more alarming than the lawmakers’ perception and comment is his decision not to go to the important international meeting, something which could have dire consequences on Korea, simply because of a single comment. The government and the ruling and opposition parties are all acting foolishly.