[EDITORIALS]Seoul wavers, Buan burnsBuan, a small town in North Jeolla province where the government planned to build a nuclear waste dump, fell into an anarchic condition, but the government failed to cope with the situation competently. The project began with poor preparation from the beginning, so the policy soon lost public confidence. Ministries involved in the project showed differences of opinion and the project is going nowhere.
Holding a referendum among the Buan residents has surfaced as an option to resolve the crisis, but the government’s stance on the vote changes day by day. Prime Minister Goh Kun said Wednesday that it was possible to hold the vote before the end of the year, accepting the residents’ demands. He said, “The timing of the vote is not a problem; if the government and the Buan residents reach an agreement to have one, we do not need legislation from the National Assembly to hold one.”
Yet Huh Sung-kwan, minister of home affairs, said the next day that it was difficult to have a vote before the end of this year because the bill was still pending at the Assembly. Mr. Goh then changed his statement, saying, “The referendum is only possible after the bill is passed.” When a government shows such inconsistency, how can the sentiment among the Buan people be improved?
The vote is a bad plan. It seems like a stopgap measure to appease angry public opinion. If the project is critical to our national interests, then the government must go ahead with it or come up with an alternative. Does Seoul have a policy goal or not?
The government also failed to cope with violent protesters properly. An ambulance was attacked and a community center and hospital burned. Only after the chaos came were 8,000 police sent there.
The administration must act according to some firm principles. If it continues flip-flopping as the situation and public opinion change, it will become a laughingstock. The government must sternly counter violent protests and present a convincing road map to pursue its policy.