[EDITORIALS]Resume halted projectsWe are pleased to hear that the government has decided to resume large-scale national projects that were stopped by the resistance of some environmental and religious organizations.
The construction of a highway around Seoul has been halted for about two years and the Gyeongbu bullet train railroad construction has not been taking place for about a year because of protests by civic groups. The two cases have made some people doubt the government’s ability to handle national affairs.
The government, however, yesterday reportedly decided to build a tunnel through an outer part of the Mount Bukhan National Park as part of the road project, which was its original plan. For the railroad project, the government is said to have been in favor of the originally planned route, which connects Mount Cheonjeong in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang province, and Mount Geumjeong in Busan. The Gyeongin canal project, however, will likely be cancelled since it may cause environmental damage and have little economic benefit.
If the government so decides, it should begin the halted projects right away. It already has wasted time and money on the projects: 500 billion won ($430 million) for the road project and 2 trillion won for the railroad project have been incurred so far.
If the government acceded to the civic groups and accepted their construction proposals, it would cause 1.8 trillion won of losses for the railroad project. For the road project, the new proposal promoted by civic groups would destroy an area of Mount Bukhan 6.5 times larger than the government’s original plan.
Past administrations also produced confusion while promoting large-scale national projects, but the confusion created by the Roh Moo-hyun administration is more serious. The government should have principles in managing state affairs. It should make a decision based on the national interest, not on public opinion. Here, the president’s leadership is essential. If a government’s rights and responsibilities are controlled by public opinion, that government is an unreliable one.