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End Opposition to 4-River Restoration Project

Posted August. 05, 2010 11:34,   


North Chungcheong Province Gov. Lee Si-jong, a member of the main opposition Democratic Party, recently visited the Office of National River Restoration at the Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry in Seoul. He told Shim Myung-pil, head of the office, “I agree with the broad outline of the project.” On an official ministry document asking whether Lee will proceed with the project, he asked the government to wait for the project’s verification committee to finish its assessment. This can be interpreted as a positive response.

Lee opposed the project in campaigning for the June 2 local elections, and even said after being elected, “I’ll suspend the project and resume it after examining the feasibility and environmental aspects.” He shifted his stance after taking office, however, saying, “I don’t think the project will cause a lot of arguments since North Chungcheong Province, unlike the Nakdong River, is free from speculation of canal construction, including floodgate building or massive dredge works. There is also little possibility of environmental damage.” He seems to have realized that opposition without convincing evidence could hinder the convenience of residents and weaken his political position.

Democratic lawmaker Park Joon-yung, who was elected governor of South Jeolla Province for a third term in June, criticized his party’s opposition to the project immediately after being elected. “Opposing the four-river restoration project is a useless political confrontation. The Yeongsan River is a pending venture in our region and it’s wrong to avoid it because of politics.”

Fortunately, Lee has turned to pragmatic politics to benefit his constituents, the country and most of all, himself. He seems not so honest after all, however, because of his suspicion over the development of the Nakdong River. A closer look at the river’s developmental plans shows that building a canal there is impossible. Dredging the bottom is the key to restoring the river. Floodgate construction can also help raise water reserves, control flooding, and protect the environment. If the Democratic Party really wants to be faithful to the country and people, it should stop being nitpicky and start supporting the restoration project.

South Chungcheong Province Gov. Ahn Hee-jung, a Democratic Party member, replied to the Land Ministry’s official document by saying, “We will conduct an empirical examination instead of opposing the project unconditionally.” Vice Gov. Kim Jong-min said, however, “Gov. Ahn’s thoughts on the project have not changed. He is reexamining it because of problems.” It is time for opposition members to stop complicating the situation and take a direct attitude. Only through such efforts can they repay what they owe to the public and advance as genuine politicians.