[EDITORIALS]Roh gets mixed scorecardPresident Roh Moo-hyun’s performance during a televised debate Wednesday night can be appreciated since he showed a reality-based understanding of several pressing issues. But he avoided answering sensitive questions and used the debate mainly to defend his government.
Mr. Roh said he would seek to renegotiate with the United States on the pullback of U.S. Forces in Korea. His demand that the people should not side with labor unions all the time helped dissipate the public’s uneasiness about his ideological leanings.
Nevertheless, he avoided addressing several issues so as not to provoke discontent from every quarter of society. The people were frustrated by his performance since he did not offer plans to overcome current crises nor a blueprint for national governance. In particular, we have problems with him avoiding serious engagement on the issue of sending troops to Iraq by saying, “You cannot expect the same words from a president and teachers.” We even felt he was irresponsible when he likened Korea’s acquiescence to the United States on troops for Iraq to the Joseon King kneeling down to the Qing general who led the invasion of Korea. If the president cannot justify the move, why send troops?
We have problems with his protection of Mr. Ahn Hee-jung, his close aide, currently under investigation. He should not have said, “He didn’t do things for his personal interest. He is suffering because of me. He is my business partner.” We cannot agree with his saying that he chose to reform the National Intelligence Service by naming Ko Young-koo as the nation’s chief spy against the wishes of the National Assembly.
But the debate was refreshing because it was totally different from others, where everything was pre-written and coordinated. But the panelists were similar to the president in their views so we did not hear various opinions. It is good that the president has direct contact with the people. But to widen the common understanding of national governance, the format of the TV debate has to be improved. The president also needs to express his ideas with more candor.