&#91EDITORIALS&#93Mr. Roh, you are president

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[EDITORIALS]Mr. Roh, you are president

Looking at the Blue House these days, you would doubt whether from the president down there exists a sense of public service. Blue House officials, the core of state management, fail to draw a line between public and private matters and behave like criminal gangs. Small wonder discipline has been shattered and chaos is omnipresent.
Case in point: President Roh Moo-hyun invited Ahn Hee-jung, deputy president of the National Strategy Institute of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, to the Blue House for dinner two weeks ago. At that time, Ahn was being investigated by the prosecution. The prosecution had twice requested an arrest warrant for Ahn, but both bids were rejected. We can understand how Mr. Roh must have felt when one of his best “comrades,” who shared all the hardship to make him president, was facing a difficult time. The nation’s chief executive, however, cannot act following his personal feelings. If the president offers words of encouragement to a suspect in the middle of a probe, how can the prosecution conduct an unbiased investigation? Every word and action of the president can be amplified into something he never intended; therefore, the President must always be extra careful.
Mr. Roh was condemned when he publicly sided with Ahn by calling him a “partner” and “comrade” when the probe was under way. Undeterred by the ensuing criticism, Mr. Roh even asked his Blue House team to “be nice to Hee-jung.” He is the model case of a public official who confuses private and public matters.
The presidential secretaries and Blue House officials who were ferried to the Saemangeum land procurement project site on a fire department helicopter are another case of poor judgement. The presidential photographer, a low-ranking civil servant, released a confidential photo of the security agency because he failed to draw a line between public and private.
The president should act like the president. He is no longer a civil rights lawyer. Every word he speaks and even the simplest gesture can influence government.
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