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Politicians` boring debates on labor reform

Posted September. 24, 2015 07:07,   


On June 17, 2011, a round of debate battle took place in Toronto, Canada on the question "Does the 21st century belong to China?" A team of former U.S. Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger and Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN`s flagship international affairs program, debated against the topic, while an opposing team of renowned historian Niall Ferguson and China`s Tsinghua University professor David Daokui Li made a case for the issue. While whether China would become the hegemon of the 21st century was a topic of great interest, the debaters` battle of language attracted great attention.

The battle took place at the Munk Debates, a semi-annual series of debates on major policy issues hosted by Canadian gold mogul Peter Munk`s Aurea foundation. The two teams presented their viewpoints and opinions in a persuasive manner in front of 2,700 people, while delivering counterblows to weak points their opponents` logic. In a poll conducted before the debate, 39 percent of the respondents were pros, with 40 percent cons and 21 percent undecided. The post-debate results showed that there were 38 percent pros and 62 percent cons with no one remaining undecided.

Lee In-je and Choo Mi-ae, heads of special committees on labor reform at their parties, the ruling Saenuri Party and the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, respectively, had a debate which was televised live. Although the debate attracted great attention to which of the two eloquent politicians would change viewers` opinions more, the one-hour forum was boring. Both debaters repeated like parrots their parties` positions, failing to persuade anyone. Lee championed labor reform that would honor the spirit of the lateset labor-management-government agreement, while Choo stressed simultaneously reforming labor and chaebol.

Watching such a debate, viewers find it not easy to sympathize with the proposed solutions to the issue of labor reform. The only thing that attracted attention was Choo`s strategy of appealing to emotions, as she expressed "concerns as a mother of three." Great debate gives more than impressions, causing changes of thoughts and inducing actions. The ancient Greek statesman Demosthenes was reputed to be a great orator. Macedonia`s King Philippos even said he was more afraid of Demosthenes` tongue than one million Greek soldiers. It is uncertain whether labor reform bills will change the public opinion and be passed by the National Assembly.