[EDITORIALS]Exercise in self-humiliationThe Blue House investigation of foreign ministry officials who allegedly made remarks critical of President Roh Moo-hyun and his foreign policy has been erring from the right path.
The issue could have been handled by the foreign minister, but Mr. Roh mentioned it at his New Year press conference, making it a subject of national attention. The Blue House and the foreign ministry now should reveal the concerned remarks of the diplomats in great detail. The people have the right to know.
Talk has spread that a mid-ranking foreign ministry official agreed with a comment made by a Grand National Party member who was critical of Mr. Roh and added that the president had some problems in his views of the United States. Is that all, or is there something more that we don’t know? The Blue House should lay everything bare.
At his news conference, Mr. Roh said there were leaks of information aimed at changing the administration’s policy. “They expressed their disagreement with the president’s foreign policy by using insulting remarks,” Mr. Roh said. He should make public the circumstance and the details of the remarks. That will allow the people to make their own judgement.
Taking into account what has been confirmed so far, we strongly suspect that those probed have been investigated due to the administration’s discontent with them. If it were really a matter of respecting and implementing the president’s policy, why did the Blue House investigate typists and those serving in lieu of military service at the foreign ministry? Doubts also grew because the Blue House civil affairs office was handling the matter. If it were really a policy issue, then the Prime Minister’s Office, the Board of Audit and Inspection or the Foreign Ministry should have handled it.
A presidential policy must be respected. But, it is nonsense that a working-level foreign ministry official must execute a policy unconditionally, forbidden from expressing an opinion. If the Blue House is probing the official on charges of just speaking critically of Mr. Roh, that is just old politics. It is unbelievable that the Blue House was talking about severe reprimands over such an issue. Does it really believe that it can still threaten public servants to regain its respect?
It was also wrong for Our Open Party to criticize the diplomats being questioned as “worshipping the United States.” It makes us wonder whether a power struggle is brewing over differences in foreign policy. If other countries happen to hear what is said, would that help us? The foreign ministry officials who stress the importance of the South Korea-U.S. alliance are doing so for the sake of our nation’s interests, just as are those who want an independent foreign policy. The Blue House should listen to the people questioning the effectiveness of its policy, which has failed to persuade even working-level diplomats.
Foreign affairs is a special field. It is important to maintain consistency in pursuit of our national interests by freeing diplomats from political conflicts. In an important foreign affairs issue, there are always hawks and doves at any time. Rival opinions can reach an agreement and the process will contribute to drawing up an unshakable policy. Labeling dissenting views as unpatriotic is nothing more than a low-grade attempt to prompt a split.
In every respect, the Blue House must stop its unproductive and degrading attempts to discipline public servants.