[EDITORIALS]Mr. Lee’s loose tonguePrime Minister Lee Hae-chan is in the middle of a controversy caused by his own remarks. While meeting with journalists, Mr. Lee made disparaging remarks about potential presidential candidates in the opposition party. He also made a reference to the president’s health. As the No. 2 man in the government, it was not proper for him to do so.
Mr. Lee seems to have forgotten his duty to stay politically neutral. “No current mayors and governors in Korea are qualified to become the president of the nation,” he said. It is apparent who the target of these words was. He also said, “The theory that the Uri Party cannot lose the next presidential election is still valid.” This is not something a prime minister should say.
The dignity befitting a prime minister is scarcely to be found in his remark, “In terms of politics, [Gyeonggi Province Governor Sohn Hak-kyu] is a far lower figure compared with me.” The conflict between the two surfaced when Mr. Sohn walked out of a recent meeting, after a heated argument with Mr. Lee over whether to allow Korean companies to build or expand factories in the Seoul metropolitan area.
It is disappointing that Mr. Lee expressed his displeasure with Mr. Sohn this way. Mr. Sohn retorted, “Well, that man may be good at politics. But he is a zero in economic and public administration affairs.”
In public dialogue, there is level of dignity that must be adhered to. A prime minister should maintain the prestige befitting his position. Even an ordinary person does not make random remarks without regard to whether it is the appropriate time or place ― to say nothing of a prime minster, who represents the nation. It is deplorable that the nation’s image, which he represents, has sunk so low.
Mr. Lee also mentioned that President Roh had undergone an operation for a ruptured disk. That was inappropriate. The Blue House later announced that there is nothing wrong with the president’s disks. So either the Blue House or the prime minister is misinforming the people about the president’s health. Mr. Lee also made inappropriate remarks about newspapers last year. He deserves rebuke for taking the opposition lightly, for not respecting the people and for failing to understand the significance of his position.