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[Editorial] Park Geun-hye and Sejong City

Posted October. 31, 2009 08:23,   


Prime Minister Chung Un-chan said yesterday that he wants talks with Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the ruling Grand National Party and leader of the party’s most influential faction, on accepting the administration’s revision of the Sejong City project, a new administrative town in South Chungcheong Province. Before talking about political trust, he said nobody can deny that the project is an enormously huge state affair.

Chung is probably more perplexed than anyone about Park’s opposition to changes in the Sejong City plan. Nearly 50 lawmakers in the ruling party back Park, so revising the law on Sejong City is impossible without her support. In that sense, the prime minister must persuade her to accept the change in plan.

Park’s reaction suggests, however, that she might decline talks with Chung. Her aides say the Sejong City matter has been concluded by the National Assembly and that Park has publicly reaffirmed her position. She said the project has been discussed numerous times and politicians have made numerous promises to build the city. Park urged the government to maintain the original plan and give a “plus alpha” if necessary, stressing the importance of trust in politics.

Her reaction is understandable considering that she led the party in March 2005, when the law on the project was passed through an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties. In addition, Park, a staunch defender of principles, wants to show the public that she keeps her promises.

Park needs to seriously consider, however, whether sticking to the original plan is in the country’s interests. She is probably well aware that the Sejong City project was the result of political calculation rather than long-term state planning. Keeping promises to the public and maintaining political trust are important as she insists, but efficiency in administration and the nation’s future are more important.

Is it right to stick to a promise when chaos and inefficiency in state affairs seem so obvious? Considering that Park one of the politicians responsible for the Sejong City project, she should hold talks with the prime minister. Dialogue could help them find a compromise between political principles and national interests.