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Ruling party presidential candidates engage in disaster relief fund debate  

Ruling party presidential candidates engage in disaster relief fund debate  

Posted June. 28, 2021 08:59,   

Updated June. 28, 2021 08:59


As the government and the ruling party, which are promoting the second revised supplementary budget, are having a tug-of-war over the range of the disaster relief fund, the battle is becoming even more heated with presidential candidates from the ruling party joined the controversy. It is interpreted as the beginning of full-fledged “policy competition” along with the nomination race.  

The opening shot was fired by former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun. “We cannot throw out the disaster relief fund unconditionally before reaching herd immunity,” he said on his Facebook account on the Saturday morning. “Giving money to the top 1 percent is populism swamped by political logics rather than economics.”  

“We should refrain from demanding universal support for all matters to make our own argument sound more logical or inviting the president into our arguments,” Chung said, targeting Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung. The former prime minister criticized Lee who had been arguing for universal basic income, emphasizing it in every discussion on the disaster relief fund.  

“Providing the disaster relief fund to all citizens is in accordance with the ruling party’s policy and history,” Lee said on his Facebook a few hours later, citing free school lunch and the first disaster relief fund that had been provided to all citizens. He also posted an image of the ruling party’s general principle, which said “Basic living of all citizens should be guaranteed based on universal welfare.”

“Are you saying all the selective policies for the low-income class and disaster relief fund for those who took the hit from the pandemic are wrong and against the ruling party’s logic?” Chung continued. “Do not make an unreasonable argument. Do not say universal welfare is populism.”  

Other candidates joined the controversy. “The fund should be concentrated on the line of work that took the damage,” said Rep. Park Yong-jin to reporters on the same day, arguing for selective provision of fund. Former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae said on her Facebook on the day, “We should trigger domestic consumption by providing the disaster relief fund to all citizens.”

Sung-Hwi Kang yolo@donga.com