[EDITORIALS]Political Backlash Is Good News

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[EDITORIALS]Political Backlash Is Good News

The Korean Medical Association says it will get more actively involved in politics, following the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations' lead. These are representative interest groups in our society. Looking ahead to presidential and local elections next year, we can easily predict that other groups will do likewise.

Confusion in medical and educational policies by the Kim Dae-jung administration seems to have prompted the declarations. Ill-prepared, the government had to admit failure in its reform attempts. It tried to introduce a strict separation of the roles of doctors and pharmacists and to make teachers more competitive, but to no avail. It has apparently spurred doctors and teachers to seek a veto power as a bloc against presidential and legislative election candidates whose policy orientation is different from theirs.

Their plans to participate more actively in politics is a means to defend themselves, and the movement is positive because it could introduce a dynamic democracy and diversity in our society. The government should reflect on the trend; it was carried away by public opinion in its reform efforts rather than putting professionals' experience and advice first.

But doctors and teachers should keep in mind some limits. They should not make elections unfair; they should not pursue their interests to the bitter end. For example, they should not put forward their own candidates. That would make their organizations political parties.

Teachers seem to be planning to raise money for and support a party and its candidates, but doctors do not seem eager to support a party. Their levels of participation vary. Looking at the bigger picture, they should be democratic in gathering opinions of their members and keep the public interest first. In the last general election, civic groups earned public trust although they violated election laws by blacklisting certain candidates. They put the public interest first, not their own.

The government and the ruling party should admit that the repeated failures in their tinkering with policies infuriated professionals. They should come up with measures to represent doctors' and teachers' voices within the current political framework.
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