[EDITORIALS]Golf, Yes; Extravagance, No

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[EDITORIALS]Golf, Yes; Extravagance, No

Anybody who heard reports about the leaders of the three coalition ruling parties who played a luxurious golf game on Sunday might wonder if they could be entitled to serve as our political leaders, who are supposed to recognize the difficult current economy and the suffering of low-income households. Let us not mention the 10 million won($8,000) bet on the game, since they insisted it was just a joke. But the lavish party following the game, with expensive gifts and premium quality whiskey, is so much removed from reality, dubbed "total crisis" by some critics, that we wonder how leaders like these are expected to read the direction of public opinion?

A day after the extravagant party, the ruling Millennium Democratic Party held a workshop for supreme council members and discussed why the people turned their back on the party in the by-elections on April 26. The people are tired of the prolonged reform process, some suggested. It seems that high political officials are not completely oblivious to the public opinion, considering that some argued President Kim Dae-jung should apologize for the difficulties in policies and some talked about calling a time-out to change policy directions. But their acts betray their words as was shown at the extravagant golf party. Their words lose persuasion and their reputations wane. The economy is standing on the line between life and death. Exports have decreased and the number of the unemployed has long exceeded 1 million due to repeated failures of policies. Credit delinquents amount to 3 million and the low income households are suffering from increasing difficulties.

We do not blame them for playing golf. The problem is their extravagance. Nobody would say anything about a golf gathering where participants enjoy generic liquor and discuss mutual survival and cooperation. We cannot understand that expensive gifts were necessary, and even if it was a joke, talking about a 10 million won or 5 million won bet itself makes ordinary people feel enmity toward politicians. It was reported that high party officials have quite a few golf gatherings every week. That arrogant attitude of disregarding the general public and paying lip service will convince nobody to follow them.

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