[EDITORIALS]Which side of the fence?President Roh Moo-hyun, touring South America, praised Korean businesses during a talk with Korean-Brazilians Wednesday.
“What has advanced the economy of Korea is businesses and their patriotism. I am proud of Korean companies and I would offer my praise to them at any time,” Mr. Roh said with a touch of affection.
This is not the first time Mr. Roh has praised businesses: He publicly flattered them while visiting India and Russia in September.
Businesses may well welcome Mr. Roh’s remarks, but their reactions appear to be unfavorable. They say what Mr. Roh says is talk only and there is no sign that his anti-business sentiments and policies are changed.
Mr. Roh, at the talk, mentioned his negative perception of Korean businesses as well.
“It is true that Korean businesses received unwarranted benefits by colluding with those in power during the past authoritarian regimes,” he commented.
He also emphasized during his remarks, “It is true that Korean businesses suppressed laborers and caused conflict,”
We believe that Mr. Roh’s view of enterprises is still based on such negative images as illicit collusion between businesses and power, suppression and unwarranted benefits. Such an attitude, we think, demonstrates a mentality that makes it difficult for him to acknowledge the process and means by which businesses achieved success, even if he acknowledges their success.
This means to him that Korean businesses, even though they now stand high as some of the world’s top companies, still committed the original sin. That is why Mr. Roh offers praise for businesses; but with reservations. And that is why Mr. Roh’s view toward business changes frequently.
He recently criticized companies, saying, “Why do businesses that endured such harsh eras of military governments not invest now, in this era of the participatory government?”
We believe businesses have already read Mr. Roh’s mind. Which enterprise would actively respond to Mr. Roh’s request for investment to revive the economy when he still demonstrates his perception that businesses are something that should be reformed?
Mr. Roh should appeal to the men of commerce. To do that, he will have to cleanse himself of anti-business sentiment.