[EDITORIALS]Candidate Lee's promises

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[EDITORIALS]Candidate Lee's promises

Lee Hoi-chang, the Grand National Party's candidate for president, pledged in his acceptance speech on Friday to make the "cleanest government in the history of Korea." He also pledged to revive the nation and build a new national foundation, where law and principle can thrive.

His stress on creating a "clean government" touches our heart as we view the whirlwind of corruption cases engulfing the nation. Mr. Lee's vow to submit reports on the wealth of all members of his family, ban the employment and involvement of relatives in public service and government affairs and set up an independent oversight agency to monitor his kin strikes a positive chord.

His pledges are largely consistent with the proposals the JoongAng Ilbo made in its special series "Upgrade Korea." At the same time, his pledges require that we undertake a deep and thorough review of the political, social and business realities. His plans to give the prime minister real powers over the cabinet, implement an equal relationship between the president and the ruling party and downsize the Blue House staff represent the political will to change the operation of national government. Calling for complete deregulation of big businesses and an exemption from special and value-added taxes on low-end goods mainly purchased by the poor are policy options intended to broaden the basis for economic growth and stabilize the quality of life. Mr. Lee's "strategic reciprocity" approach to expanding humanitarian aid to North Korea shows that he will be proactive on inter-Korean affairs.

Who can reject this array of campaign pledges -- pledges that promise to abolish a system of government that allowed the monopolization of power and to pursue economic growth, while protecting the interests of the middle class and the less fortunate?

But does Mr. Lee possess the political will to match his words with deeds? Korean voters will watch to see if Mr. Lee, whose family lives in a luxurious apartment complex, renting three separate units, can bridge the gap separating him and those who make note of his "elite" status. His pledges can only hit home in the hearts of the voters if he carries out in deeds his pledges, while abiding by the other public image of a principled leader that he enjoys.

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