Posted February. 25, 2010 07:48,
The Lee Myung-bak administration enters its third year today. According to a Dong-A Ilbo survey of experts, the administration gets relatively high marks in economy, labor, diplomacy, national security and rule of law, while getting low marks in politics, education and welfare. Over the past two years, the government effectively responded to the global economic crisis and made diplomatic achievements such as winning the hosting rights to the Group of 20 summit in November. It also made mistakes, however.
The government must reestablish its resolve to place the country on a path toward sustainable growth in the remaining three years of the administrations term. It is no exaggeration to say the governments final opportunity to push for solid reform is this year. Building on two years of administration, it should set a clear goal and action plans.
The economy required the most attention. Though Korea has lifted itself out of the global economic crisis faster than any other country, it is not out of the woods yet. Corporate investment remains weak and youth employment has reached a serious low. The working class also still feels the pinch of the crisis. While doing its utmost to achieve solid economic recovery, the government must make a prudent approach to implement an exit strategy at the most appropriate time.
To fully revive the economy and create jobs, the first order of business is stimulation of corporate investment and more flexibility in the job market. Efforts should also go into promoting new growth engines such as the green and service industries. Upholding the law at workplaces is also needed. In addition, the government should break from its bad practice of easing regulations on the one hand and creating new ones on the other. Steady efforts to establish a business-friendly environment are also a must.
Yet lack of communication is the most urgent problem facing the Lee administration. It must do everything it can to communicate with not only the people, but also opposition parties and members of the ruling parity. As evidenced by the disputes over the Sejong City project and the four-river restoration project, a policy agenda will fail without exhaustive preparation and a firm drive, no matter how good the intent. To ease conflict over region, ideology and generations and to prevent such conflict from blocking the implementation of important policies, the administration must enhance communication.
The first goal of educational reform is the normalization of public education. Urgently needed in this regard is the removal of corruption in education and higher competitiveness in public education. Putting excessive efforts into easing private education costs while paying little attention on raising the competitiveness of public schools is like putting the cart ahead of the horse. The establishment of rule of law without corruption is a prerequisite to developing a society that is fair and transparent. Restoring the national identity that was undermined by the previous two left-leaning administrations is another task for the government to take up.
President Lee should also persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambition and become a normal state. What will happen in the North over the next three years is anybodys guess, so Seoul must be thoroughly prepared for a contingency. National security, the economy and diplomacy should be the governments priority to ensure the survival of the country and people.