Time for Firm Principles

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Time for Firm Principles

Economic stagnation, corruption, chaotic interpretation of laws and systems, social disruption and increased unemployment are only a few of the serious problems we face. To overcome them and achieve a stable society, it is important to enhance the level of national management. In our country, it has not yet escaped amateurism.

The recent commotion over medical reform, the failure of economic reform and problems in inter-Korean relation are results of this amateurism.

It is not fair to say that only the current administration lacks this management ability. When the Kim Young-sam administration was inaugurated in 1993, core power belonged to proponents of democratization. At the turnover of political power in 1998, the democratization group again was in the forefront. Although the struggle was difficult, it did not require polished skills in national management while they were not in power.

The military regime depended on simple methods to govern by oppressing or appeasing criticism and protests by workers, the press and intellectuals. So, giving ruling power to the democratization group meant a new experiment in national management. Many people viewed the Kim Young-sam administration with high expectations but insecurity because of its experimental nature. Just as the last administration was swamped by the foreign exchange crisis, the current Kim Dae-jung administration has also failed to achieve substantial development. The economy faces a crisis, while reform has lost its destination. Regionalism has deepened and conflict between the ruling and opposition parties has continued endlessly. The people are increasingly sneering at politics.

Both the democratization group and the former ruling power cannot be neglected in a national management team. What is needed is thorough self-criticism and total transformation suitable to lead the nation. Today, the concept of democratization has also changed to a social procedure in which the people would accept delicate social changes and enjoy the benefits of welfare.

A corporate president who, at the age of 60, entered an executive management course offered by a university in the United States said that he was no longer a professional business manager, but only a freshman and an amateur.

That honest and humble self-evaluation is the starting point of wisdom. A human resources policy driven by regionalism and personal relations will only result in disaster.

Furthermore, national management requires respect for principles and determination while guarding against dogmatism. Policies and reform without principle and determination but relying on dogma are destined to fail. For example, inter-Korean relation, the use of public funds, disposal of insolvent companies and corruption among officials should be treated with firm principles and determination.

The story of Harry Truman, the former U.S. president, certainly can teach us. When he appointined George Marshall as secretary of state, many people worried that Mr. Marshall would overwhelm the president. Mr. Truman simply said that he agreed, but still carried out his decision.

Mr. Truman was a man of determination when he decided to drop atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II, rebuild Europe and fight in the Korean War.

He respected fairness and common sense. He despised the politics of demagoguery. Mr. Truman''s philosophy of governing was to set a goal and work with his team to achieve it. He managed his country consistently with the best team, firm principles and determination.

We are in a crisis of national management. It is time to learn to use talented people, eliminate dogma and set forth a principle of constitutional government. It is time that we Koreans demonstrate our determination to resolve our dilemma.
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