[EDITORIALS]Welcoming words from RohIn a meeting with the nation’s Christian leaders yesterday morning, President Roh Moo-hyun stressed “dialogue and comprise.” Iterating his faith in democracy, the president said he will respect others and will work using dialogue and compromise to come to an agreement with those who have different opinions. Such comments from the president are welcoming because, as he said, the nexus of democracy is dialogue, compromise, reconciliation and tolerance.
There is nothing new in what President Roh said. It is written in junior high and high school textbooks and appears in the introduction of political science books. Nevertheless, we pay close attention because the president said the words. Since he took office, he has aggressively pursued reform, but in the process, the country has become deeply divided. Ideological differences among social power groups are sharp. Public opinion on important issues such as relocation of the administrative capital, presidential impeachment, dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq and North Korean nuclear weapons diverged into whether you were “pro-Roh” or “anti-Roh” rather than on any rational assessment on these issues. The governing party and the administration seemingly encouraged it. And in more than a few instances, Mr. Roh sparked controversy.
The same president now says that he will respect even those who attack him. That comment can be construed to mean that he will exercise leadership focusing on integration rather than struggling against political opponents. In his recent speech before the National Assembly, Mr. Roh stressed the essence of win-win politics is that each party respects the other, achieves compromise through dialogue and then gracefully deals with the outcome. In regards to civic groups, a group in favor of the administration, he indirectly criticized claims without compromise as an undemocratic self-righteousness.
The Blue House explained the change in Mr. Roh as coming from his confidence as the nation’s chief executive. His critics counter that the president is merely covering his true self for a while. Whatever the reason may be, the change in Mr. Roh is desirable for the country.
With three years left in his term, we expect the president to consistently adhere to the avowed principles. A lot of misunderstandings will be resolved when the president’s changes translate into concrete actions.