[EDITORIALS]A good show of steelPresident Roh Moo-hyun scolded cabinet ministers for failing to address the disruption caused by independent truck drivers in Pohang, who blocked the movement of goods at steel factories. “It isn’t right for ministers to act like this,” President Roh reportedly said. The ministers and local law enforcement authorities magnified the trouble by ignoring the problem; rumors abound about the real reason for the government officials’ halfhearted attitude.
The government’s lukewarm response to illegal collective action has deepened the trouble. The ministers had been reportedly trying to read the president’s eyes and cooperate with what they assumed to be Mr. Roh’s sympathy for liberals and unions in matters involving the outlawed Federation of All-Korean University Students and the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union. The police sat on their hands, we assume, because they thought that going by the book would not be in line with President Roh’s desires. Security authorities, who should have dealt with illegal actions no matter what the president thinks, left the truckers’ job action unsettled for six days. The ministers behaved similarly because they did not read his body language correctly.
President Roh should not reprimand his ministers’ lack of dedication; instead, he should clarify his position on many issues that invited misunderstandings, and try to get government offices in tune with his thinking. He should say clearly that he will not tolerate lawbreaking and attempts to settle matters by group tyranny. If he continues to waver, similar incidents are sure to occur.
Lack of coordination among government bureaus deepened the trouble. The Blue House and the prime minister’s office should coordinate the work of government offices in addressing troubles, but it is doubtful that they did so in this case. Distributing duties among different government bureaus in the wake of trouble would show skill in managing state affairs. President Roh said he would not tolerate breaches of the social order. We are happy that he has clarified his stance, although belatedly.