&#91EDITORIALS&#93Transition team follies

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Transition team follies

The credibility of the presidential transition committee is plummeting like a wingless bird. The committee had to retract its request for cancellation of the Seoul-Incheon canal project just a day after making it. Scrapping the 1.8 trillion won ($1.5 billion) project had been the opinion of one division rather than an official stance of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun's transition team. For the watching public, the confusion, impulsiveness, inability to prioritize and compulsion to prove that they are keeping busy are lamentable.

The Seoul-Incheon canal project is no stranger to controversy. It was subject to budgetary and environmental questions before former President Kim Young-sam decided to attract private capital. With the canal to be completed by 2007, a total of 390 billion won has been spent and a temporary sluiceway on Gulpo creek is open. We cannot but gasp that the transition team dared, in a closed meeting, to stop a national project undertaken after 15 years of public debate. Surely, this is not what Mr. Roh intended when he stressed a "culture of debate."

The decision to stop a project of a such massive scale is sensitive, involving various and diverse economic interests. But the transition team notified civic groups of the decision before it told the government ministries. Does it intend to represent nongovernmental groups or to fulfill its role of leveling ground for an administrative change?

The team's internal dissension is disgusting. It is speculated that differences among the panel on social, cultural and women's issues and the panel on economic affairs produced the split. Members have put forth difer-ent policies toward the jaebeols, or conglo-merates, and disagreements between econo-mic technocrats and academic economists have dominated headlines.We cannot but worry whether the transition team, already a month old but lacking a recognized channel of decision-making, will end its tenure repeating trial and error. The committee should get its decision-making channels straight before it proffers new sets of policy directions.
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