[EDITORIALS]Watch your tongueThe higher the post and heavier the responsibility, the more carefully one must speak. The impact of one’s words is directly proportional to the weight of the speaker’s post. So a single word from the president can change national policy or start a war. It would be very appropriate for President Roh Moo-hyun to speak less, for the sake of our country.
It can be painful for Mr. Roh to be taciturn because of his eloquence. Since he spoke of “participatory government,” it would be attractive for the president to persuade the people with his words. The problem is how he can manage to maintain an appropriate level of communications but eliminate the unintended effects of that communication with the people.
The president speaks freely about domestic affairs, and that is not a problem. Sometimes a slip of the tongue is forgivable when the conversation is between Koreans and the president. But Mr. Roh must be prudent when speaking on international issues. One word can drive a nation into danger; one word can change an ally to an enemy.
Mr. Roh told the British daily, The Times, that Washington “must not go too far.” Such a remark is more than enough to enrage the United States. We need cooperation with our allies more than anything else at this point. Making an impression of conflict between Seoul and Washington will do no good to us. Mr. Roh might have meant that Korea must speak out when its opinion differs from Washington’s; but still, what can such talk contribute to our national interest?
Mr. Roh is also changing his words too frequently about domestic affairs. He once said he would name a working-level expert as the National Intelligence Service chief, but now it appears the job will go to a politician. The suitability of Chin Dae-je as information minister became an issue because Mr. Roh made remarks that abandoned his stated principles.
Mr. Roh said at KBS, “How could I become president without broadcasting?” Such remarks could lead to assumptions that the broadcast media was not neutral during the campaign. Mr. Roh must remember that his words can change the destiny of a nation.