[EDITORIALS]A disappointing briefingThe press conference held by President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday was disappointing. We hoped that the political confrontation leading to a catastrophic impeachment would end with the press conference. But, far from resolving the political impasse, it has made the situation even more complicated and twisted.
We expected the president to show mature leadership in embracing both the ruling and opposition parties as well as the people. We also expected that a decision would be made to cut the tangled knots of impeachment, presidential election funds and his remark on “one-tenth” of the opposition’s illegal funds.
But he made things worse by linking the legislative elections to confidence in his presidency. Referring to the wrongdoings of his relatives and aides and illegal presidential election funds, he made apologies, but he kept making tedious excuses as well. He failed to show the politics of magnanimity.
Mr. Roh said, “I will make the corresponding political decision accepting the will of the people reflected in the legislative elections as their judgment of me.” This means that he will relate the election outcome to the people’s confidence in him. It raises the question of whether this is legally justifiable. Since there is no clause in the national referendum law on asking for a confidence vote, seeking confidence in a referendum is unconstitutional.
The expert opinion is that seeking people’s confidence in the presidency is only possible through impeachment or resignation. It is absurd to apply the result of elections as an index of people’s confidence in the president.
If the fate of a president hinges on the legislative elections, there is concern that the elections will be turned into a procedure through which the government forces the people to choose between stability and disorder. Ultimately, it will be interpreted as using people’s psychology of favoring stability.
President Roh said, “It will be better to make public the details of my proposal around the time I decide to join Our Open Party.” Then it means that whether the medium of judgment is the majority seats or 100 seats in the Assembly is supposed to be decided by the president. This is an arbitrary way of determining people’s confidence. The president’s neutrality is already in question. This adds another problem to the existing one.
Mr. Roh’s explanations on illegal campaign funds were very poor. He said excluding the amount his aides received after the election, the illegal funds used by his camp were less than 10 percent of his rivals’. It was not nice to see the president calculate figures at the press conference. He should have made a bigger political gesture.
For his campaign managers who raised illegal funds, he showed his appreciation, saying, “Although they violated the law, they did it for the election and they didn’t put money in their pockets.”
In connection with the wrongdoings of his relatives and aides, he made long, boring explanations of their difficulties. He also said it is difficult to supervise the activities of numerous relatives. It is doubtful that Mr. Roh knows of people’s reactions to his relatives’ wrongdoings.
People who watched the press conference on television complained of wasting precious time. Is it all right to waste the broadcasting companies’ precious air time if it is the president who wasted it? In the future, broadcasters should not allot air time to the president one-sidedly. They must give the opposition similar air time to make counterarguments.