[FORUM]Roh, Mao share certain traits

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[FORUM]Roh, Mao share certain traits

President Roh Moo-hyun said that among historical figures he respects Abraham Lincoln most. But it seems that he doesn’t have much in common with his hero except that they started out as self-educated lawyers. Rather, he has more similarities with Mao Zedong of China.
First of all, they both are excellent strategists and brilliant tacticians. They are talented demagogues in stirring up the minds of people and have capabilities of turning the situation in one blow.
Mr. Roh’s call for a referendum, which became a political turning point for him, reminds us of Mao’s crossing of the Yangtze River by swimming at the age of 74. Consolidating allies by creating and attacking enemies is another common skill. They even seem to share good luck in overcoming crises.
In his presidential campaign, Mr. Roh was like Mao in the Long March. Mr. Roh, who looked hopeless in the campaign when he lagged behind Chung Mong-jun, was no better off than Mao, who was chased by Chiang Kai-Shek.
But Mr. Chung’s shocking withdrawal of support spurred Mr. Roh’s allies to unite. As Zhang Xueliang saved Mao’s life by arresting Mr. Chiang in Xian, so Mr. Chung did play a major role in saving Mr. Roh.
The confusion since his inauguration last February has much in common with that of the Cultural Revolution in China. Mao caused a huge disturbance with his loyal Red Guards, saying that he would achieve a “great rule through great confusion.”
Whether Mr. Roh wanted it or not, it seems that Koreans already have entered the era of the great confusion. It is his role to end it and to lead the country to greatness.
Though China is said to have retreated 30 years with its 10-year Cultural Revolution, we can regain our vitality if we wisely keep the recent confusion under control. Who are we? In the economy and in democracy, Korean people have accomplished great things in a short period of time.
To regain our vitality, the campaign finance investigation should be concluded in a clear way that everyone will accept the result. Then the politicians should return to taking care of the people’s lives.
With the petty schemes that link the investigation to the general election next year, the great confusion won’t go away. However, good luck seems to favor the president again. Mr. Roh, unlike his unsuccessful predecessors, is facing a good opportunity to rearrange his staff early in his term.

* The writer is a deputy managing editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik
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