[EDITORIALS]Take care of first things first

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[EDITORIALS]Take care of first things first

President Roh Moo-hyun’s public address on Liberation Day left much to be desired. Right now, the Korean people are losing hope. The streets are filled with millions of credit delinquents, people living in poverty and unemployed youths. The recession has left private business owners and small to mid-size businesses in a dying condition. High prices are strangling lower-income people and housewives.
The president only mentioned one line about this reality: “Right now, we feel it with our skin that the economy is difficult.” Instead, he spent most of his time emphasizing the need to clean up the past. How are the president and the people ever going to become of the same mind and open the future?
President Roh proposed to the National Assembly that we establish a special commission to verify the facts in our history. He wants the commission to deal with pro-Japanese activities during the colonial period along with human rights violations and illegal activities by governments in the past. It is obvious how the National Assembly session will proceed. The “public welfare and economic revival” issues that the Uri Party promised to pay attention to are now history. There will only be perennial and extreme political bickering.
The president’s concept of history as shown in the speech is flawed. He said our past was characterized by “disunion and strife” and “violations and vested interests.” If this is true, what about our “legendary economic and democratic achievements” and our being “the world’s 11th biggest economy,” which even President Roh acknowledged? History has its merits and demerits, its lights and shadows. It should not be approached solely from a negative perspective.
Of course, it is necessary to explain and learn our lessons from our past mistakes. Yet how are the legislators and the political parties planning to tidy up the past period of 50 to 100 years? If the politics of today start organizing history according to partisan interests, there will never be an end to the political bickering.
If an Assembly entity were to be formed to deal with history, it would be better to establish a body comprised of professionals from various fields with political neutrality and expertise in research and analysis. The president, the government and the political community’s job is to pay attention to the people’s immediate needs. Only then will the people have hope.
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