[EDITORIALS]Bring us together, Mr. RohThe Korean people decided to choose Roh Moo-hyun as the man who will lead us in these early years of the 21st century. The victory is the result of people supporting Mr. Roh's slogan "Let's liquidate the old political practices and build a new Republic of Korea." The excitement and joy over his election win is a drama staged by "Roh Moo-hyun politics." After a dramatic victory in his party's primary, and following a tense decision for a unified candidate, Mr. Roh showed he could turn crises into opportunities, bolstering his image as a competitor. Now the people have decided to raise his hand. While the joy of the winner is great, the despondency of the loser is just as great. The president-elect should realize that the first task ahead of him is to achieve national harmony.
Mr. Roh should bond the people by opening an era of national unity, which he pledged during the campaign. In this election, the regional gap between the Yeongnam and Honam areas, in terms of support for the candidates of their choice, was wide without exception. Although regional antagonism did not surface, the divide between the supporters of two regions presented a strong undercurrent. Just as Kim Dae-jung won the election five years ago, more than 90 percent of the Honam region went to Mr. Roh.
Mr. Roh should also put his energy into easing the conflicts among different generations. The divide of support between voters in their 20s and 30s and those in their 50s is unusually deep. This divide is not simply from differences in conscience and emotions, generated by age differences, but it is mixed with different views of history and ideological differences. In the eyes of the middle-aged and elderly voters, there is uneasiness over Mr. Roh's view of history and his political ideology.
In order to concentrate on national power, national divisiveness should be cured. Led by the tolerance of the winner, we must work for a unity among the young, the middle-aged and the elderly, and also among conservatives and liberals.
To further capture that unity, Mr. Roh should show his capacity as a reformer. His victory was made possible because he adopted the spirit of the times that says new politics must start by eradicating the old politics represented by the three Kims. His first task in this area is an eradication of an imperial presidency. Refusing to hold all the power will be a self-sacrifice for political reform. Rebuilding the Democratic Millennium Party, which will be an another step in the removal of old politics, should be pursued in the full spirit of reform.
In the new politics of hope, Mr. Roh's ideological inclination, which created conflict among people in the current government, should not recur. Populist reform wearies people and leads to confusion in an administration. The politics of relying on emotion and image, which was adopted to gain votes, has its limitations in the Blue House.
Breaking ties with President Kim Dae-jung was a large part of Mr. Roh's success. This should be followed by breaking from President Kim's failed personnel policy, his corruption and his other administrative failures. Mr. Roh should take care not to have his work labeled the "Second Generation Kim Dae-jung Administration." The leadership of integration will start with fair personnel policies, appointments free of political patronage and personal connections.
The economic forecast for next year is gloomy. The business community is surely anxious about Mr. Roh's election victory. Surely they feel uneasy about his policy of a "transparent and fair market" for business conglomerates. In order to get results from his idea that "although it is difficult for the time being, competition will make the market work efficiently," the priorities and speed of an economic policy should be controlled. To be a successful president, Mr. Roh should start by hitting the right button. That first button is to keep a low profile in power and to promote national harmony with a passion.