[EDITORIALS]Go ahead with a referendum

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[EDITORIALS]Go ahead with a referendum

Evidence that shows President Roh Moo-hyun commenting he would decide on whether to move the administrative capital through a national referendum has been rediscovered.
The video clip is on Mr. Roh’s Internet Web site from his days as president-elect, which is currently linked to the Blue House Web page. In a television interview with the Korean Broadcasting System before the elections in December 2002, Mr. Roh said he would make the final decision on whether to move the capital by forming a public consensus within a year if he were voted into office.
Public pledges from candidate days are bound to include unrealistic ones influenced by populism and political logic. That’s why the public asks presidents-elect to abide by the pledges but to give up the impractical ones. So asking elected politicians to keep their promises at all costs can be an irrational request.
Regarding Mr. Roh’s promise of a national referendum, the Blue House spokesman recently said it was not a matter that the president raised carelessly at this time. Some presidential aides and Uri Party officials assert that there is no need for the referendum since a national consensus was reached when related laws were passed in the previous National Assembly. But it is ignoring the reality where strong opposition is brewing and not an answer to his promise.
The governing party is not in a position to use the Assembly’s passage as backing for their claims. Up until now, the party has not been hesitant in appealing decisions made by the Assembly, including the vote to impeach Mr. Roh. The recent behavior of the Uri Party only can be viewed as an attitude to accept decisions that are in their interest and reject those that are not.
The situation has changed with the rediscovery of the video clip. Of course, preparing for a national vote is not easy. Sufficient time and budget need to be devoted to the matter. But consider the social costs that we will have to pay if we choose to bypass the process. It is sure that the damage will be massive and destructive to a degree unimaginable to us now. If we consider the next administration that will handle the capital move, we cannot skip a national referendum.
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