[EDITORIALS]Hasty election pledgesWith the May 31 regional elections drawing near, the “election manifesto” movement is actively moving forward. Last week, the heads of the five political parties publicly pledged to draw up measurable and specific promises as part of the movement.
However, when we look at the pledges that the parties made on their regional tours, we notice that there are no traces of deep consideration for a long-term vision to manage this country. It is difficult to shake the impression that they have hurriedly drafted pledges to attract votes.
The Uri Party first promised to increase the college admission quota for technical or industrial high school graduates from the current 3 percent to 10 percent. However, after opposition from colleges and parents, they lowered it to 5 percent, saying that their former pledge of 10 percent had only been a “suggested” level.
The issue of setting up bullet train routes in the Jeolla provinces ― which comes up every election ― surfaced again. Uri Party Chairman Chung Dong-young and the party’s policy chief Kang Bong-gyun visited South Jeolla yesterday and promised to set up a KTX route between Iksan and Yeosu by 2010. On March 7, leaders of the Uri Party visited South Chungcheong province and pledged to build a controversial KTX station in Gongju. We wonder whether politicians should make such pledges without prior feasibility studies of the railway industry, which experienced a strike recently because of chronic deficits.
Since the governing party is this way, no doubt the opposition will follow, and not long after, the entire country will be flooded with pledges catering to regional sentiment.
In cases like the Saemangeum project, we have already experienced great national confusion and wasted energy because of pledges made just before elections without getting a sufficient national consensus.
Construction of Muan, Kimje and Uljin Airports has been practically finished but their openings are being postponed because of a lack of demand, while people’s tax money is still going into their maintenance. It is a problem that politicians make empty pledges just to get elected, but the larger problem is that their pledges ignore the overall framework of the country’s management in order to stimulate local votes.
Party leaders should be the first to recognize that the election manifesto movement was created so that voters can choose from pledges that are absolutely necessary and those that can be kept.