[EDITORIALS]Deal with criticism, not critics

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[EDITORIALS]Deal with criticism, not critics

We are at a loss to understand what Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hun-jai said during a cabinet meeting of economy-related ministers the day before yesterday: He criticized financial research institutes, saying that they are promoting the ideological disputes that currently wrack the nation. His outburst was a reaction against the previous day’s academic forum organized by the Korea Institute of Finance, which had slammed the Roh Moo-hyun administration’s economic policies.
At the forum, many economists said the Roh administration’s economic policies run contrary to market economy principles. Even members of civic groups that routinely support the administration said that its economic policies were inconsistent.
Mr. Lee, a market economist himself, may have been hurt by the harsh words, but he is in no position to criticize a free academic forum. He would be better advised to reflect on why such criticism is taking place.
It is our belief that what is causing the ideological disputes is not the Korea Institute of Finance, which staged the forum, but the administration’s philosophy and policies themselves. Mr. Lee chose to turn a blind eye to this point.
“Financial research institutes should shrink their focus so that they can concentrate on specific research,” Mr. Lee said during the meeting. “I said so during the Korea Institute of Finance’s lecture on Sep. 10 ― but it didn’t listen.”
The Korea Institute of Finance is a private research institute established by finance companies. In what capacity, exactly, was Mr. Lee chastising it and complaining that it didn’t listen?
It is not just Mr. Lee. National Assembly Speaker Kim One-ki said at the forum that it was wrong for Choi Gwang, chief of the National Assembly Budget Office, to criticize the administration’s economic policies. The governing Uri Party also laid into Mr. Choi, saying that he was hired by former speaker Park Kwan-yong, and should be removed from his position. The budget office is an institution established by the Assembly to independently investigate the government’s economic policies. The National Assembly Speaker and the Uri Party should remember that the office is not a handmaiden of the government.
Is it not a remarkable piece of self-righteousness for the Roh administration not to allow any opposing voices questioning its philosophy to be heard?
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