[EDITORIALS]Reform (Change) Needs Reordering

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[EDITORIALS]Reform (Change) Needs Reordering

Supreme Council members of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party argued at a workshop Monday that the government should conclude the reform policies it has implemented so far by adjusting and supplementing them. This opinion has been voiced before, and the current administration has criticized the pronouncements as the conservatism of anti-reform groups. But this time, the voices have attracted interest because they were raised from within the ruling party itself and by a majority of the Council members. A Blue House spokesman quickly rejected the ruling party's proposal, saying reforms should take place consistently. That testifies to how sensitive those in power are about this issue.

We are not interested in the controversies as to the direction of reforms, that is, whether to conclude or continue reforms. For such debates may be meaningless, as it was proved by the former Kim Young-sam administration that in reality, it is not easy for a government late in its term to push for a new reform agenda. The current situation is going in the wrong direction, as it seems the Blue House and the Millennium Democratic Party are engaged in a power struggle, with the ruling-party leadership being long on principles but short on details about how to ease public resentment over reforms. The power elite should carefully contemplate why many of the ruling party's leaders and legislators expressed in public their opposition to the way reforms are implemented and the timing of such remarks. The issue of a widening gap between the public's view and government reform policies was raised at a time when it was necessary to listen to the public's voice in wake of the ruling party's defeat in local elections on April 26. The ruling-party leadership must think that public fatigue and disappointment over a series of reform measures are so great that some have suggested that the government replace the term "reform" with "change."

Why do they make such a conclusion? The medical reform, which banned doctors from selling drugs and pharmacists from writing subscriptions, was a showcase for sloppy preparation. Doctors, pharmacists and patients are all at odds with the medical overhaul. Press reform, which should be carried out independently by the press, has led to heated debate over press control because the government stepped in, reviving newspaper regulations and conducting intensive tax probes into newspaper companies. The education reform is under fire for worsening the situation for students and parents. Another problem is that the government joined hands with activist civic groups to brand the targets of reformed as an "evil force." Such moves have created active opponents. The head of the Center for Free Enterprise, a private research foundation, has gone as far as to argue, "The right wing must wake up to stop the leftists from monopolizing the government."

Hopefully, the party's proposal to review the way the government carries out reforms will serve the purpose of reexamining the reform policies by the ruling elites. It should not turn a deaf ear to the party's opinion and try to continue reforms as it has done so far. It should prioritize its reform agenda and come up with thorough supplementary measures for policies that went wrong. The Blue House, which strives not to become a lame duck, is in conflict with the ruling party, which aims at winning the next presidential election. However, it is time that the government and the ruling party did their best to find concrete and realistic alternatives for completing reform, rather than being caught up in exhaustive debates on the matter.
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