[NOTEBOOK]Fight corruption with reformOn a popular television gag program these days, there is a scene called “Is that so?” It is about a sergeant playing a hoax on a private with a question; whatever answer the private gives to it, the sergeant finds fault with it. Knowing the sergeant’s intention, the private ponders it over, but he cannot escape from the grip of the playful sergeant. There is no way to escape from a powerful person if the person intends to give a hard time regardless of the contents of the answer.
Even if they are not so far-fetched as in the gag “Is that so, sergeant?” things in the world almost always have two sides. To increase the welfare budget, we should collect taxes just as much. To preserve the environment, we should reinforce restrictions on businesses and put up with a reduction in jobs. To maintain standard education, we should sacrifice elite education, and to withdraw the U.S. forces stationed in Korea, we should be prepared to increase defense costs and collect more taxes.
We may play a trick on everything in the world like the “sergeant” if we turn a blind eye to the other side of the coin. Neither balance nor alternatives are necessary. Because no alternatives are proposed, there is no need for taking responsibility for the result. If anyone tries to turn the opposite side of the coin even just a little, we have only to treat him as an opportunist or traitor. In any case, there are people in the world who like only one side of the coin, and they may be recognized as a holder of clear principles and become politically successful.
The most vulnerable people to such a trap are reporters. Opposition lawmakers are also in no better situation. We often see these people turn a blind eye to and criticize government policies whose background they may well guess.
Still, it may be understandable as part of their function as watchdog if they keep their criticism at a right level. Criticisms from the press or opposition parties do not necessarily become policies. Rather, they may give the government opportunities to review its policies once again and broaden the scope of consensus. But shouldn’t the government and the governing party that takes responsibility for policy implementation be different? It is very confusing at the 17th National Assembly to know which is the governing party and which is the opposite party, though. In particular, the reversal of the agreement between leaders of the governing and opposition parties was a gag show funnier than the hoax of the sergeant in the television program.
But what is worrisome is that there is no reality in the 17th National Assembly and religious fundamentalists who are strong in their faith alone are gradually occupying the Assembly. We should clap our hands for their being antagonistic against the corruption and old practices of politicians of the past and be armored with reform and moralism.
* The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin-Kook
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