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[Editorial] 2nd Year Crucial for Lee Administration

Posted December. 20, 2008 03:57,   


The ruling Grand National Party yesterday held a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of its victory in last year’s presidential election at Gimpo Airport Convention Center. In consideration of the economic crisis, the ceremony was a low-key event with about 1,000 people, including President Lee Myung-bak and party leaders. President Lee said in his congratulatory speech, “Now is not the time to talk about whatever we want, but rather a time to take action,” refraining from talking big. Participants also renewed their commitment to economic revival.

The event was nothing like “Remember 12.19,” which was held five years ago to commemorate the first anniversary of Roh Moo-hyun’s election. The 2004 event was lavishly celebrated at Yeouido Park in Seoul by pro-Roh groups, including Rohsamo. If the economic crisis and the pain and suffering of the Korean people are considered, how could the ruling party even hold such an event in the first place? This is the prevailing public sentiment.

President Lee and the party were mandated by the public to build a better country and revive the economy. The Lee administration, however, has suffered trial and error, namely mistakes in staffing and ill-advised nominations of candidates in the general election, since the presidential transition period. These incidents have deeply disappointed the public and sent Lee’s approval rating plummeting to the 20-30 percent level. Rather than consolidating themselves, the government and the party have separated themselves into a pro-Lee group and another supporting his former rival, Park Geun-hye. One pro-Park lawmaker went so far as to say, “The birth of the Lee administration was ill-advised.” Oftentimes, no one could predict how the ruling party was going to lead the National Assembly.

Korea is facing an economic crisis whose severity is comparable to the one that hit Asia in 1997. The Lee administration might wish to excuse itself by claiming that this domestic crisis stems from the unprecedented global downturn. It could also blame left-leaning forces that took root in many areas of the country over the past 10 years as persistently interrupting state administration. The ruling camp, however, is inherently obliged to take complete responsibility on behalf of the people and country. President Lee and the party won the presidential election last year by pledging to do so. Making excuses is simply pitiful.

The Lee administration has no reason to repeat trial and error and continue to create policy failures in its second year. It is no exaggeration to say the success or failure of the administration is dependent on its performance next year. Korea is standing at the crossroad of whether it can overcome the crisis or be doomed to failure just before joining the league of advanced countries. In the wake of the first anniversary of their election victory, President Lee, the ruling party and the administration must do everything they can for the nation and people.