[EDITORIALS]When golf equals arrogancePrime Minister Lee Hae-chan is under fire again for playing golf in a time of crisis. Due to a railroad strike, concerns mounted that the nation’s traffic would be paralyzed, but Mr. Lee played golf with Busan businessmen.
We do not intend to criticize Mr. Lee for enjoying golf. There is no law that bans a prime minister from enjoying his leisure time. His performance in national governance is the substantial matter; the nation does not necessarily function well by him sitting in his office. It was a statutory holiday and he has the right to use personal time for his hobby. There is nothing wrong that the hobby is golf. The U.S. president was not criticized for receiving reports on the Iraq War at his Texas ranch. But, Mr. Lee is going too far to say that he was playing golf as a hobby. We hear too much gossip and criticism over his playing golf. Immediately before showing respect to the dead in September 2004 after an accidental shooting in the nation’s military, Mr. Lee was criticized for playing golf. When a forest fire broke out in Gangwon province in April last year and the nation’s southern regions were suffering from flood damage in July, he was also playing golf.
After those incidents, Mr. Lee promised the National Assembly that he would refrain from doing so. And yet, his behavior did not change at all. Earlier this year, he was suspected of having been lobbied by an influence-peddler, Yoon Sang-lim, because he played golf with Mr. Yoon when he was a lawmaker, before becoming prime minister. Mr. Lee was engaged in a fierce verbal battle with an opposition lawmaker over the matter in a National Assembly session, and the next day, his latest golf scandal took place.
He is arrogant enough to turn deaf ears to criticism from the people and the opposition party. Mr. Lee said he was being introduced to new members of the Busan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but we wonder why the meeting had to take place at a country club in Busan.
What matters is not that Mr. Lee played golf, but his behavior as a prime minister that is symbolized by his golf. Many ordinary citizens feel disappointed, wondering what’s so important about golf. This critically damages confidence in this government. If Mr. Lee becomes the target of public gossip and criticism this often, how about he stop playing golf temporarily while serving as prime minister? If that is too difficult, he should refrain from playing golf on days when national emergencies occur. We can confidently assure the prime minister he will remain healthy even if he does not play golf.