[EDITORIALS]Governors: Calm down

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[EDITORIALS]Governors: Calm down

In the aftermath of the presidential impeachment, heads of provincial and local governments are increasingly meddling in the legislative elections. Seoul’s mayor, Lee Myung-bak; Gyeonggi province’s governor, Sohn Hak-kyu and Incheon’s mayor, Ahn Sang-soo are all affiliated with the Grand National Party. They met yesterday and made public pork-barrel promises. Other local government heads affiliated with the Millennium Democratic Party are leaving their party one by one because the party lost a lot of popularity because of the impeachment; they are joining the ruling Our Open Party. The nation faces a serious split, and the local government leaders must remain calm in this crisis. But they are fueling the chaos.
The three Grand National-affiliated heads of capital region governments promised to stabilize the people’s livelihood, but their pledges were nothing more than vote-getters for the legislative elections.
They said their governments would allocate more than 90 percent of their 2004 new-project budget in the first half of the year to encourage employment and stimulate the economy. They said more than 80 percent of the projects would be commissioned and more than 60 percent of the money actually spent during this half. They said 44,000 new jobs, up 13,000 from their initial plans, would be created to ease youth unemployment.
The president was impeached by the Assembly for illegal campaigning, but the local government heads are increasingly leading the campaigns. The election law requires political neutrality of public servants, and that applies not only to the president but also to all heads of local governments.
The Millennium Democrats’ mass departure is also reckless. Polls showed the increasing popularity of Our Open Party, so they moved without asking for their constituents’ approval or understanding.
Today, 28 senior Korean administrators, including the president, are unable to perform their duty because they are running for elections or have been indicted. Korea is now “The Republic of Acting Officials.” If local government leaders do not remain calm at this juncture, we may face an even more serious crisis. We urge local government leaders to act reasonably.
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