[NOTEBOOK]Looking for the impossibleFinding a fair and dignified candidate for the next presidency seems like an unattainable dream. The three major presidential candidates, Lee Hoi-chang, Roh Moo-hyun and Chung Mong-joon, are far from this characterization. The three men have no political principles, and they seem to have failed in keeping consistency in their policy. Their attitude over the issue of selecting a unified candidate between Mr. Roh and Mr. Chung was disappointing.
Mr. Roh has stressed through interviews and public debates he had over the last couple of months that there will be no attempt at a unified candidate.
"If I am elected president after unifying two candidates into one, I may have to ask Mr. Chung's opinion whenever I want to come up with some policies. It would be absurd that a Korean president should run errands for a Hyundai tycoon." Mr. Roh also said, "Mr. Chung and I walked totally different paths."
Suddenly Mr. Roh, the candidate from the Millennium Democratic Party, favors candidate unification. Mr. Roh should have asked the people who supported him in the primary before making this decision.
Mr. Roh claimed during an interview with Busan Munwha Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday that people wanted unification of the two candidates and that he simply followed the people's will.
"Lee Hoi-chang has been doing exactly the same thing as the three Kims: Kim Dae-jung, Kim Young-sam and Kim Jong-pil," Mr. Roh said. But recently he himself has been behaving and speaking in a way that reminds people of the three Kims.
Things are the same with Mr. Chung of National Alliance 21. He seemed like an open-minded man who accepted every demand from Mr. Roh the first time the two candidates met, on Nov. 15.
But the position National Alliance 21 has taken since Monday is no different from old politics. It is common sense, especially in the political world, that there is no secret if two persons already know. The detailed plan on the unification of the candidates would have been leaked to the press and the public sooner or later. More than 10 persons from the two parties knew of the scheme.
After the plan was leaked to the press, an official at the Millennium Democratic Party said the media was responsible for the estrangement between the two candidates. Moreover, the official claimed that the press intended to break the tie between Mr. Roh and Mr. Chung.
National Alliance 21 appears to be malfunctioning because all of its negotiators quit after the unification information was leaked to the press. People are becoming more and more skeptical of the collaboration between the two because both have had ups and downs, which has made voters even more confused.
But Lee Hoi-chang is not seen as much different from the other two candidates.
Mr. Lee's Grand National party also has been critical of the unification plan, and the party members raised their voices against the proposed television debates and public opinion poll on the two candidates' unity. They even alleged that the invisible hand of the Blue House was intervening in the political conspiracy.
It would have been better for the Grand National Party and Lee Hoi-chang to respond, "Do as you two please. But people still want a transfer of power."
The GNP recently made moves, such as helping the present administration prepare to make a soft landing. Maybe it was nothing more than a winner's goodwill. The GNP is attracting members from the other parties based on this gesture. People, however, wish to know where the principles and the promises the politicians once made are.
Voters want a truly broad- minded and dignified politician who will hold onto the sense of responsibility and principle. People are looking for a candidate for the next presidency on whom they can really rely, be proud of and follow as the nation's leader.
* The writer is editor of political news of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Du-woo