[EDITORIALS]Bad decision on a projectPresident Roh Moo-hyun has expressed his strong feelings that the Saemangeum reclamation project should be resumed “as soon as possible,” and the Seoul Administrative Court amended its order halt ing the construction to allow embankment protection work to continue. The issue, however, is far from resolved and strife seems to have even deepened. Environmental groups are demanding that minimum work be continued and only on the parts of the sea wall where erosion is feared. The agricultural ministry has said all construction would continue, except for that blocking water inflow. That actually reinstates the project.
This happened because the president said the project will continue as soon as possible only four days after the court’s decision. The agricultural minister resigned to protest the court order and North Jeolla residents retaliated by withdrawing their acceptance of a nuclear waste treatment facility to be built in Buan and refusing to play host to the National Sports Festival, which is scheduled to open in the province in October. In light of the seriousness of the situation, the court order was right in that we must give ourselves more time to clarify the purpose of the project and to review the options. Moreover, the president breached the principle of the separation of the three branches of government by making a statement that could affect the final court decision that is expected in three months. When the president ordered a “new plan” for Saemangeum, he is thought to have meant changing the intended use of the reclaimed land. This is all the more reason that the project should be halted temporarily so that appropriate changes can be made to the plan.
The project was started during the Roh Tae-woo administration as a political payoff to the less developed areas in North Jeolla province. Roh Moo-hyun did not act appropriately when he issued a statement censuring the Seoul Administrative Court order. That was a political move that considered only the public opinion of North Jeolla residents. We cannot make decisions based only on public opinion. We must consider the well-being of generations to come.