[EDITORIALS]Mr. Roh’s partial confessionWe consider President Roh Moo-hyun’s policy speech before the National Assembly yesterday to have been a relatively frank confession, followed by a modest pledge. Marking the second anniversary of his inaguration, the president acknowledged the failures of the economic policies of the past two years, and asked the public for forgiveness. He added that the growing pains from his first two years in office would help him approach national affairs in a more mature fashion for the the remainder of his term.
If yesterday’s speech left anything to be desired, it was that he emphasized reflection on past mistakes without sufficient explanations for the causes of his failures. The president remarked that the household credit crisis had been underway when he took office, which pulled down consumption, and then unemployment and skyrocketing real estate prices added to the burden on ordinary people. In short, he wanted to say that the current economic struggles were due to the mistakes of the previous administration. And, of course, this is true and no one denies it.
But it’s also a fact that non-economic factors played a large role in the hardships of the past two years. Society-wide reform policies that neglected the economic situation deprived companies of the will to make investments, and confusion about the administration’s direction aggravated the uncertainty factor. Excessive restraints imposed on the well-off caused them to stop spending, and worsened the economy along with the previously mentioned factors.
Exhaustive political conflict in administrative affairs also made the situation worse than it might have been. In a period when everyone should have focused on reviving the economy, the conflict over the National Security Law divided the people. The administration’s plan to relocate the capital added regional division to the mix. Excessive economic and social expenditures were made merely to satisfy the political needs of those in power.
In spite of it all, what’s hopeful is that the president promised to build a more developed Korea through the peaceful practice of politics. But it is vital that these not be mere words. If the president wants to fulfill his committment, he must look back on the last two years, throughly analyze the causes of the failures and make new plans with those causes in mind. Only then will he be able to carry out his promises for the three years he has left.