[EDITORIALS]Some advice for Mr. Lee

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[EDITORIALS]Some advice for Mr. Lee

Former Grand National Party President Lee Hoi-chang has in effect been nominated for the presidency by his party. The Seoul primary remains, but even if lightning struck and Mr. Lee lost massively here, his margin in the first 11 primaries is too large to overcome. His three rivals have conceded and vowed that they will work with Mr. Lee to elect him in December.

Mr. Lee's nomination is a personal honor, and it is also a second chance for the politician who lost to President Kim Dae-jung in 1997 by a slim margin. Thus, there are some things that Mr. Lee should keep in mind as he looks to avenge his 1997 defeat.

Mr. Lee says he stands for reform based on rationalism, eradication of corruption and a stable government. That is a policy platform that sounds wise against a background of major corruption cases that have even entangled the president's family. He should not stop at rhetoric, but come up with concrete ideas for change. That is the way that he can rise to the era's calls for change and reform, differentiate himself from the Millennium Democratic Party's presidential nominee, Roh Moo-hyun, and blunt criticism that he has kept his political popularity only because people are dismayed at the Kim Dae-jung administration's failures.

Mr. Lee should also be cautious about recruiting politicians to expand his support base. His popularity has dropped with the unexpected appearance of Roh Moo-hyun on the political scene, but Mr. Lee should not try to fan regional antagonisms or join forces with corrupt interests. He would do well to embrace both politicians who were former democracy activists and those who served in administrations that opposed that movement. He also needs to narrow the social and regional divide that widened during the Kim Dae-jung administration. A little humility would also help.

The resignation of President Kim Dae-jung from the Millennium Democratic Party has put Mr. Lee in an ambiguous position. Mr. Lee has the dual responsibility of leading a campaign befitting the majority party in the Assembly and ensuring that state affairs do not bog down during the campaign. Rather than launching a blanket political offensive and asking Mr. Kim to resign early, Mr. Lee should put forward workable policy solutions and show prudent leadership.
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