[EDITORIALS]Doubts about a new groupPresident Roh Moo-hyun proposed to form a “Joint Conference for Grand National Integration” in his annual policy speech to the National Assembly that was read by Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan. Mr. Roh explained that the conference would provide “a framework for discussions on an economic and social agenda” and that “people from all walks of life, including businessmen, representatives of labor unions, civic groups, religious groups, farmers, experts and politicians” would participate. After the speech, Mr. Roh met with Mr. Lee and decided to launch the organ with the participation of about 50 representatives in early December. We can see that the president is intent on this.
On the surface, it seems to be a plausible idea. Mr. Roh pointed out correctly, “If division, confrontation and conflicts continue in our society, there will be no sustained growth and our entry into the advanced economies will remain distant.” Under the circumstances, who would object to a proposal “to open a new era of national integration and draw a line under the history of conflict and division”? But to create a grand social consensus on major social problems and conflicts that can’t be solved by the government alone, a restoration of confidence among members of society is a prerequisite.
Who was it that has mobilized populism, divided people into groups of enemies or friends and fanned hostility against Seoul National University and the rich people in Gangnam? We also wonder whether the administration has tried to have a dialogue with the National Assembly, which is responsible for the integration and coordination of social conflicts. When it proposes to form a new organ out of the blue in the absence of other efforts towards social integration, it is not persuasive. If there is no reflection on this by the government, the “Joint Conference for Grand National Integration” will not be successful. The suspicion that there must be a political reason behind the idea won’t disappear. The Grand National Party has already called it “another version of a coalition.”
To make it work effectively, the members of the organization should restore confidence among themselves and share the spirit that there is no future for Korea if they fail to work out a consensus. It must be clear that the body won’t be used politically; otherwise it will be nothing but a house built on sand.