Heed Cardinal Kim's Advice

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Heed Cardinal Kim's Advice

On Tuesday, Stephen Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan, head of Korean Catholics, gave a gentle, but stinging piece of his mind on Korean politics. When Kim Joong-kwon, chairman of the Millennium Democratic Party, visited him, the cardinal asked if politicians listened to the people''s voices at all. He went on to point out that all are preoccupied with the next presidential election and fail to listen to people''s voices and heed the issues closely related to citizens'' lives.

Watching the recent political landscape, citizens cannot help harboring strong suspicions whether politics exist at all and for whom current politics are carried on. The ruling party asserts bipartisan cooperation in words, but in reality it exerts pressures on the opposition, pulling strings behind the prosecution. The ruling party is obsessed with maintaining a numerical supremacy, farming out its lawmakers to its coalition partner and readily joining hands with a party of totally different stripes. Also, none has come forward from the government to take responsibility when the infusion of enormous amounts of public funds, amounting to the nation''s annual budget, proved futile. No wonder the public does not trust politicians'' empty words. The government must understand why Cardinal Kim emphatically said, "Honesty is of utmost importance."

The eyes of politicians are riveted on how things are developing for the presidential election two years down the road. The government gives the impression that it devotes itself to preventing the president''s lame duck phenomenon. To that end, several attempts to gag the critical press have arisen in recent days. About Cardinal Kim''s question whether the ruling party pays attention to such a concern, the ruling party''s head simply reiterated the refrain ?reforms in four sectors and politics of coexistence.

Cardinal Kim repeatedly asked that President Kim Dae-jung carry on politics of mutual survival and trust. He said, "Now that the president has won the Novel Prize, I hope he will become a president who enjoys citizens'' confidence and their good evaluation." Cardinal Kim hoped that the president would be rid of excessive ambition to earn people''s confidence by saying, "To gain, you should give up first." Was this request too alien to Mr. Kim and the ruling party putting forth a strong government and a strong politics?

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