[EDITORIALS]A Lesson in DiscretionPark Joon-young, spokesman for the Blue House, in a rare event made a public comment Monday and said the quality and the level of intelligence and insight of Lee Hoi-chang, chairman of the opposition Grand National Party, is questionable. We think Mr. Park's remark went too far. It abandoned political morality and will not help resolve the escalating discord between the ruling and the opposition parties over the inter-Korean relations.
Criticizing the government's policies is one of the important roles of the opposition party. Of course, there will be a trouble if the opposition party only trumps up charges on the slightest pretext or picks a quarrel, but the opposition party is not there to applaud the ruling party. In this context, Mr. Lee and his party's denouncing the government on national security issues is considered to reflect the opinions of part of our society. Especially, President Kim Dae-jung's repeated urge that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il should visit South Korea became the subject of many conflicting opinions.
Mr. Lee said it is not good to "beg" North Korea to come to Seoul when Pyongyang is not performing up to its responsibility, which we believe is in line with the opinions that some Koreans hold. Even Lee Man-sup, speaker of the National Assembly, pointed out problems in this regard. When it comes to the issue of North Korean ships' intrusion into our waters and infringement of the Northern Limit Line, the public sentiment is in support of opposition leader Lee Hoi-chang's argument that strong counter measures are needed against this North Korea's provocations. Therefore, it is natural that the opposition leader Mr. Lee is in a position to express his criticism of saying that he was at a loss when President Kim Dae-jung said South Korea's navy should be praised for its moderate reactions to violations by North Korean ships.
When the situation gets this far, the government should first reflect on what went wrong, and then it must either concentrate on supplementing its policies or presenting persuasive logic. To our disappointment, Mr. Park came up with emotional reactions, branding of his own accord the remarks of the opposition leader as a revelation of the leader's intention that he does not want the inter-Korean summit to be held again. Mr. Park's expression embodies enmity and hostility, more than just mistrust. How can we expect a "mutually beneficial" politics here.
The Blue House spokesman represents the thought and words of the president, which is why the remarks of the spokesman should be prudent and discreet. Mr. Park should bear in mind that his wrongful words could eventually harm the president.
The opposition party has many faults of its own. It is true that the opposition party has frequently used insulting expressions. A rumor has it that the Blue House exploded this time because the spokesman of the opposition party described the government as "begging" or "pleading" for Pyongyang to visit Seoul in return. The opposition party should have been more composed when it criticized the government, but it was an excessive remark for Mr. Park, as the Blue House spokesman, to comment on "quality" of the opposition leader. We look forward to a more relaxed political circle.