Posted June. 15, 2010 13:36,
President Lee Myung-bak asked parliament Monday to handle a pending bill on the revision to the Sejong City development project.
In his first radio and Internet address to the nation since the ruling partys humiliating defeat in the June 2 local elections, he said, I can no longer afford to see the nation divided over the matter with regional and political conflict intensifying. I ask the National Assembly to decide on the revised Sejong City project that was submitted in March in the ongoing session (provisional session in June).
I will respect the National Assemblys decision based on its vote.
Lee Dong-kwan, senior presidential secretary for public relations, said, The ruling Grand National Party previously decided its party platform on a certain issue first and pushed for a vote, but is now urging lawmakers to vote free from the partys policy.
For the revision to pass, it needs majority approval from 146 of the 291 incumbent legislators.
Secretary Lee said, It is undesirable to interpret the presidents decision as an exit strategy or abandonment of the Sejong City project.
Nevertheless, experts say the administration has begun taking steps to end the controversy over the project as the revision has a low chance of approval. Lawmakers from opposition parties and those from ruling party loyal to former party chief Park Geun-hye, who number about 50 among the partys 168 lawmakers, will likely vote against the revision.
Main opposition Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun said, The president himself should withdraw the revision as soon as possible.
President Lee said, I feel heavily responsible for the outcome of the local elections. While introducing reform of the administrative and Cabinet systems for better efficiency, I will reshuffle the Cabinet as soon as the administration is ready. Based on soul searching, the administration and the government alike including myself will not fear change and seek dramatic reforms.
The ruling party has a good opportunity to change. Its members should gather wisdom and strength together to transform the party into a young and energetic one that stays ahead of the times.
The administration is reportedly reviewing measures to hire younger talent in their mid-40s to early 50s in the Cabinet reshuffle, which will come after a presidential staff reshuffle expected in early July at the latest, and after the July 28 by-elections.
President Lee also pledged continued commitment to the restoration of the countrys four major rivers. I will humbly accept claims that my administration lacks efforts to communicate with and convince the public, he said. We will once again gather ideas from local governments that are part of the four rivers water system.
The chief executive is expected to announce specific policy initiatives for his administration in the latter half of his term, including political reform, through celebratory comments on Liberation Day Aug. 15.