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Seoul mayor proposes TV debate over free school meals

Posted December. 08, 2010 11:22,   


Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon Tuesday reiterated his proposal for a TV debate over free school meals with Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education Superintendent Kwak No-hyun, calling Kwak a “coward” for snubbing the debate.

In a news conference at Seoul City Hall, Oh said, “It is very irresponsible for a person who wants to push for free school lunches through reduced educational investment to avoid a TV debate meant to seek social agreement.”

The mayor also suggested that Kwak join him in writing a letter describing each of their opinions for submission to Seoul residents.

Oh also denied the argument that a small cut in the public works budget could fund free school meals. “On the government level, (the proposal) sounds like spending money on free school meals by reducing the budget for the Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs Ministry,” he said. “This is an irrational argument saying free school meals trumps all over issues.”

The mayor also blasted the main opposition Democratic Party. “To realize universal welfare as pushed for by the Democratic Party, you`d have to increase taxes on ordinary citizens but (the party) never tells you about this inconvenient truth,” he said. “I`ll let the people know the truth through all possible means.”

Oh said income and corporate taxes would have to be raised more than 30 percent to realize the Democratic Party’s “universal welfare.”

He said he is also considering visiting underperforming schools to stress the importance of empowering public education rather than offering free school meals.

In response, Democratic Party members of the Seoul City Council told a news conference in the afternoon, “If Oh wants a debate, he should come to the city council immediately. His no-show at the council over the legally passed rule on free school meals raises doubts over his quality.”