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Park Heavily Influencing Fate of Sejong City Project

Posted November. 05, 2009 08:02,   


The Lee Myung-bak administration officially announced yesterday a revision to the plan for the Sejong City project, but the opinion of former ruling Grand National Party chief Park Geun-hye could exert influence.

Park earlier had sought to block changes to the project’s original plan. She said Oct. 23 that nixing the project, then said eight days later not to disparage her stance as her personal political conviction.

In response to Park’s continued criticism of the government`s revision plan, the presidential office and the government have accelerated measures to proceed with the project’s revision.

Park has made no further comment on the project since last week. She participated in a regular meeting between the ruling party’s Daegu branch and the Daegu city government, but never mentioned the project.

She could talk about the project Nov. 14, however, when she visits Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, to commemorate the 92nd birthday of her late father and former President Park Chung-hee. If and when she speaks about Sejong City again, she could stir up political circles in that politicians consider her opinion of the project influential.

A recent opinion poll showed that a larger share of people believe the project’s original plan should be pursued as Park argues, reflecting her strong influence. She also said additional features should be added to the original plan.

Polling agency Realmeter conducted a phone survey of 700 people aged 19 or older on the Sejong City project Monday. The results said 41.2 percent answered that the original plan should be pursued, higher than the 30 percent who favored a change for Sejong City into a “corporate and educational city.”

When Realmeter performed a similar survey Sept. 16, 39 percent said the original plan should be changed and 38.8 percent favored termination. A source at the polling agency said, “After Park’s comments, more respondents answered that the original plan should be followed.”

Park’s opposition to the government’s attempt to revise the project plan has caused a dispute between pro-Lee and pro-Park figures, the ruling party has faced difficulty forming an affiliate organization in charge of the project.

After his luncheon with President Lee, ruling party chief Chung Mong-joon said Monday, “I’ll create a party body in charge of the Sejong City project soon.”

Chung reconfirmed his plan to create the body yesterday, saying, “It is irresponsible for the party not to make any progress in a project drawing much public attention and that is a key to Korea’s future.”

Pro-Park figures oppose Chung’s idea, however, saying, “If a party organization is launched when the government suggests no policy or opinion, Grand National Party members will only stick to fruitless discussion.”

A party organization comprising pro-Lee figures only will be also feared not to reflect the opinions of all party members.