&#91EDITORIALS&#93Use 1st gear for reform

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[EDITORIALS]Use 1st gear for reform

Roh Moo-hyun, the president-elect, yesterday tried to straighten out confusion surrounding his plan to reform jaebeol. According to his spokesman, Mr. Roh said there will be no artificial or alarming reforms targeted at specific business groups. Mr. Roh reportedly said if there is a reform, it will be gradual, spontaneous and long-term. Kim Jin-pyo, the vice chairman of the presidential transition committee, added that reform measures are something that require bill-drafting and enactments. "Reform is not a matter that can done in a hurry, and Mr. Roh has no intention to do so," Mr. Kim said.

Lately, the presidential transition committee has spewed forth a large number of reform ideas. An all-inclusive system of taxation for inheritance and gift taxes, class action suits on securities-related cases and the separation of financial affiliates from large business groups are some of the ideas. Meanwhile, rumors have increased the uneasiness within the business community, which has already been afraid of the transition committee members' past policies and propensities.

Under such circumstances, it is a positive and timely development for Mr. Roh to clarify his stance and to remove unnecessary conflicts between the government and the business community. Doing so will surely better the Korean economy.

The reform tasks will be implemented in some form after the new government is launched. The new administration must reject its negative preconceptions about large business groups and work on reform from the beginning. The government must begin a survey to find out if jaebeol are continuing any bad business practices they once had. The government must study cases of advanced countries to verify what reform programs have worked there. The government must also conduct a careful and professional study of the real impact of its reform measures on our economy.

Whenever a new administration began in the past, overwhelming pressures on large business groups were threatened, but none was successful. Mr. Roh's gradual, spontaneous and long-term reform principles, we believe, will not repeat the past mistakes involving jaebeol reform.

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