[EDITORIALS]'Reform Harvest,' 'Reform Fatigue'There has been a lot of noise in the government and the Millennium Democratic Party centered on reform. There has been self-criticism about what has been accomplished on reform, but there has also been much harsh criticism toward those who chose to be self-critical.
Recently, the party's Supreme Council proposed a "reform harvest," suggesting that the administration wrap up its program. Immediate-ly, the Office of the President objected that reform is an ongoing policy. The minister of planning and budget, Jeon Yun-churl, and the chairman of the Fair Trade Commission, Lee Nam-ki, said "reform fatigue" means nothing but opposition to reform. The chairman of the Civil Service Commission, Kim Kwang-woong, shot back that "those in charge of reform must be the first to renew themselves."
A year and seven months remain in the term of the current administration. There is probably not enough time for the administration to begin new projects. But there is enough time to review the progress made in the government's reform policy and begin wrapping up its programs.
The "reform harvest" suggested by the top party lawmakers was a rather rational observation, considering the time constraint. It echoes the societal consensus that nothing very visible has been accomplished despite all the talk. It may even be a stinging reminder that it is time to re-view the various reform programs that have failed to yield substantial results. It is frustrating to hear reflexive calls for "ongoing reform" every time there is any internal criticism of reform programs.
What makes the insistence on "ongoing reform" more serious is the tendency to decry criticism of the direction and the means of reform as opposition to reform itself. It is difficult, when there are those who are so quick to cry foul, to carry out reforms that can garner national support.
What Chairman Kim of the Civil Service Commission said, on the second anniversary of the commission's founding, is all the more meaningful in that light. "We should not divide those who conduct reform and those who are subject to reform," Mr. Kim said. "Officials must use their power under strict constraint and promote reform in collaboration with those who are subject to reform." He also said, "We must look back on ourselves first before we reject criticism from the opposition, the media and the people." Reform officials should pay heed.