[EDITORIALS]Policy turns into personal fightCommenting on the efforts to block the transfer of the capital, President Roh Moo-hyun said yesterday, “I feel it’s a move to cast a no-confidence vote on the president and a move to force me out of office.” It was a much more naked expression than the one he made last month: “I will accomplish the move of the capital even by staking the fate of the administration on it.”
With his repeated comments like these, the move of the capital has turned into a political matter, not a policy issue. He has also blocked the opportunities for sound discussions and a gathering of public opinion. In identifying those who favor the capital move as his supporters and those who oppose it as people who don’t have confidence in him, any sort of opinion won’t look genuine.
Why is Mr. Roh turning the issue into a political struggle? Most Korean people now know that the president’s political objectives are hiding behind the outspoken comments. The people have repeatedly heard shocking comments from Mr. Roh: “I can’t continue to be president;” “I will ask for a vote of confidence,” or “I’ll put the presidency on the line.” With such words, Mr. Roh has been effective in mobilizing supporters during crises.
As a result, it’s only natural to wonder whether his comments yesterday were calculated to pull up his low approval rating and keep his supporters from breaking away.
It is also absurd that Mr. Roh criticized the major newspaper companies in connection with the capital move. He said, “The newspapers with large buildings right in front of the government complex in the heart of Seoul” have been leading the opposition.
But what relation is there between the capital move and the buildings of the newspaper companies? Are his words designed to gather the netizens and media outlets that support him whenever he complains about conservative media?
We express our worries because the president himself is firing the first shots in what could be a massive political battle in the latter half of this year. It is obvious that the country will go through a period of turmoil when those supporting and opposing the president will square off. Why does the president try to create such a political disturbance?
Mr. Roh also expressed dissatisfaction with press coverage: “Although dozens of discussions on the capital move took place, the press failed to cover them.” But the media has relayed their opinion on the policy through various methods and occasions. This type of criticism is not appropriate.
Some 130 social elders released a statement yesterday calling for the government to proceed with its plan only after a national consensus is achieved. According to Mr. Roh’s logic, these people must be considered as trying to get the president to resign. But there were quite a few Roh supporters in the group. We ask the president to accept the elders’ proposal and immediately halt the hasty plan in order to review what the best course available is.