[EDITORIALS]Final debate on key issues

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[EDITORIALS]Final debate on key issues

The televised debates among leading presidential hopefuls ended last night with a discussion on social and cultural issues. In the last television debate for this election, held four days before election day, with more than 20 percent of voters still undecided, the candidates focused on presenting different solutions for major issues.

The debate topics were related to improving the quality of life, including education, welfare, environment, opportunities for women and culture. These areas require investment; therefore, ambitious measures will not materialize without money.

The failure of public education, the increasing financial burden for private education and immigration for children's education are the problems of our education system. The remedy agreed on by both Lee Hoi-chang and Roh Moo-hyun is to allow more school autonomy and diversity. Mr. Lee emphasizes the importance of educating talented students through competition and Mr. Roh has focused on equality. The candidates split on standardization of high school education, with Mr. Lee supporting gradual improvement and Mr. Roh backing the present system.

The separation of the medical practitioners and the pharmacy industry and integration of medical insurance finances have been hotly debated among interested groups. Mr. Roh prefers to maintain the current system of separation and unify insurance finances. But Mr. Lee demands an overall reevaluation of the separation policy and is against pushing ahead with the integration of finances.

The issue of moving the capital, was debated as "a collective social issue," but the attitude that "the rival's claim is wrong and my view is the only right opinion" left an impression that the debate was sharply divided. For national projects, which require a long-term view, it is wrong to give an impression that one is interested only in votes.

The television debate has opened an era of media elections offering the chance to examine major policies of candidates. There were shortcomings of rigidity in the procedure and lack of time. These should be improved for the next election.

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