[EDITORIALS]A doubly offensive remark

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[EDITORIALS]A doubly offensive remark

"How can a woman prime minister get things done when the president is not well?"

Grand National Party legislator Kim Moo-sung deserves to be censured for this comment. The words imply that the president no longer exists and that women's abilities are limited.

At age 76, President Kim Dae-jung has been hospitalized once and many people have worried about his health. The Blue House's shifty explanations about his condition heighten these concerns. Despite this background, Mr. Kim's words are irresponsible. His lame and vague apology -- that he had "meant it as a joke because that's what they're saying in the United States" -- gives more reason for regret.

As regrettable as his words about the president's health are Mr. Kim's mincing words about the qualifications of acting Prime Minister Chang Sang. True, Ms. Chang's lack of experience in dealing directly with national defense issues could pose a problem. However, it is unacceptable that her abilities be disparaged merely because she is a woman.

A more benevolent concern from other parts holds that by appointing the first woman prime minister in these trying times, there is a risk that the public's perception of women could turn negative should she not meet expectations. There is also the criticism that the president pushed for a cabinet reshuffle for no reason other than to grab some "politically correct" points and to divert attention from the troubles of his sons. Even if the criticism is true, the Grand National Party should show magnanimity as the majority party by supporting Ms. Chang for the sake of a smooth administration sailing.

The party should take notice that it is already coming under criticism for the rash words of some of its legislators after their taking over of the National Assembly. More malicious gossip would do the party no good. Ms. Chang's qualifications can be questioned properly during the consent process in the National Assembly. Mr. Kim should have thought about whether his words might divert the focus from other issues in the evaluation of Ms. Chang, such as her son's U.S. citizenship, the apparent discrepancy in her academic background and the question of whether she invested illegally in real estate.

The Grand National Party should apologize sincerely for Mr. Kim's words and take measures to ensure that this does not happen again.
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