[EDITORIALS]A challenge to overcome, an opportunity to excelIt is tragic. We feel bewildered. We are concerned and uneasy. Will this country function properly? Will national security be maintained? What will happen to our economy? What about the legislative elections? How long will the country be under an interim government?
We will have to take a path that we have never taken before. That is why we are extremely nervous and worried. But, we must go on. We must make a firm resolution and take a step forward. We must not show any weakness to anyone ― even to ourselves. We have overcome a war, a revolution and a coup to stand here. Therefore, we have enough wisdom, courage and patience. We must be determined to overcome this crisis wisely because it will determine the fate of our country.
Because the National Assembly impeached President Roh Moo-hyun, he is suspended from exercising his power under the constitution until the Constitutional Court makes a final ruling. Prime Minister Goh Kun has become the acting president. We believe constitutionalism must continue, with Mr. Goh at the center.
Most of all, it is important to maintain order. It is critical that the government make its best efforts and the people cooperate. Chaos never resolves any crisis. We must think deeply about what we would all face if the nation were split at this critical juncture. Each one of us must act and think calmly and prudently.
It is important that we keep our composure. The constitutional procedure of impeachment must follow the plan laid out in the constitution, and the people must live their everyday lives with presence of mind. How we will cope with this crisis will change the face of our future.
It is completely up to us whether we see this crisis as an opportunity or we collapse under the heavy pressure. The crisis is not the change of the status of the president. The nation faces a real crisis whenever the people are shaken.
In the United States, nine out of its 43 presidents have been removed from their positions during their terms because of assassination, illness or resignation. Still, the country succeeded to become the world’s strongest country because government officials and citizens were not shaken by the absence of the president and devoted their hearts and souls to state affairs.
Korea saw four out of eight past presidents ― excluding Mr. Roh ― stop working during terms. Still, we were not discouraged and made the “Miracle of the Han.”
Now we have to show our energy as we did before. We have to confirm the fact that this country is being run by a system, not by a person.
There will be praise and condemnation for the Assembly’s impeachment decision. But the decision was legitimate because it was made using the correct procedures. We will have to accept the decision that was made with the agreement of more than two-thirds of our lawmakers.
Park Kwan-yong, the speaker, exercised his right to use security officers at the Assembly. That was an inevitable decision for him.
Now what remains is a final decision by the Constitutional Court. The court will have to carry out its obligations quickly and legitimately. A long transition period without a president will not be good for anyone.
Citizens will have to continue their everyday lives in a calm manner and wait for the court’s decision.
There may be groups that want to cause trouble now so that they can turn future political affairs like the April 15 legislative elections to their own advantage. Our citizens must strictly punish those kinds of groups.
The impeachment decision must not lead to rebellion or treason. Our security situation is not simple. The North Korean nuclear problem keeps us in a precarious state; the North and the United States still do not confide in each other. There is also a possibility of military conflict in the Yellow Sea. Our troops in Iraq are another problem because the situation there has been turning worse lately. The government should prepare every measure it can think of to handle possible security threats. Most of all, the military should devote itself to prevent the North from trying to exploit our current rift.
Economic stability is also important. Our economy is in a difficult situation now. Political instability will add a burden on the ailing economy. Political uneasiness should not bring about investment avoidance and a drop in consumption. In the short term, there is no other way but to rely on the efforts of the government to soothe the anxiety of the market. In the longer term, we have to create conditions so that we can turn our political misfortune into a blessing and enhance our international credibility. We have high hopes for our economic team led by Lee Hun-jai, the deputy prime minister.
The political community bears the greatest responsibility for calming the current situation. Politicians must declare that they are stopping all kinds of political struggles. They must give full support to Prime Minister Goh Kun’s interim government. It is desirable to start a dialogue on the future course of our domestic political policies. The ruling and the opposition parties should not keep on struggling against each other without making a compromise. Opening a dialogue between the leaders of the ruling and the opposition parties is a way to a solution. If all parties quickly make decisions that can give the people some assurance, politics will return to normal. First of all, the legislative elections in little over 30 days must be trouble-free elections.
On this occasion we are also obliged to comment about President Roh Moo-hyun. President Roh must feel ashamed of himself as he has become the first president in the history of our constitution who has been impeached by the National Assembly. He must keep in mind that the people feel frustrated at a reality where the impeachment of the president drew as much support as it did. Mr. Roh must accept the impeachment humbly, and it is his responsibility to cooperate with the interim government so that it can solve problems caused by the impeachment motion.
History never stops flowing. It even doesn’t allow us the luxury of looking back at it. Korean politics have already passed another crossroad. We should not create another conflict by pointing fingers at each other. Here, we have to look out at our future. Creating our future depends on the manner in which we overcome the current crisis. We have to make our country one about which posterity and history books will say boastfully, “In 2004, our forefathers made a wise decision.”