[VIEWPOINT]For once, let’s remember the losersThe Seoul mayoral race this year has turned out to be a competition between lawyers.
Putting aside Kim Jong-cheol, the Democratic Labor Party candidate, the three other competitors ― Kang Kum-sill of the Uri Party, Oh Se-hoon of the Grand National Party and Park Joo-sun of the Democratic Party ― practice law and are either former judges or prosecutors. Through a party primary, Ms. Kang was elected the Uri Party’s candidate on Tuesday and Mr. Oh as the Grand National Party’s on March 25.
Those who have won the title of their respective parties’ candidates have achieved the first goal in the competition that will end May 31, when the election is held.
However, the efforts of those who failed in the primaries are wasted. Considering that in Korean society people get used to fast changes and personnel reshuffles, the losers will soon be forgotten.
Even if Lee Kye-ahn, who was defeated in the Uri Party primary, and Maeng Hyung-kyu and Hong Joon-pyo, who failed in the Grand National Party’s primary, assume the role of the head of the planning headquarters of their respective party’s Seoul mayoral election camps, their roles will be supporting players.
There is a reason why I pay special attention to them. It is because they were the most well-prepared candidates ever to run.
For more than a year, they collected materials on the operation of the city government and met government officials and concerned academics looking for policy alternatives. They have also worked hard to develop new policies.
But they were deprived of the chance to even explain to the citizens the various policies they prepared through such hard work, not to mention the chance to put them in action. I regret that.
If the Seoul mayoral race becomes a competition of the candidates’ policies as they pledge, it is the losers who will have made the most significant contribution.
People who watched TV debates among candidates said the standards were very high, and said the debates made them think “there will be no problem, whoever among them is elected.”
The contribution the losers made in upgrading the quality of debates and the dignity of the campaigns can not be underestimated.
The candidates of rival parties have also highly rated the losers of the other parties.
Ms. Kang praised Mr. Maeng of the Grand National Party, by saying, “Mr. Maeng is gentle and a man of broad views and high intelligence.” Mr. Lee of the Uri Party also praised Mr. Maeng, saying, “I have an impression that Mr. Maeng is well-prepared and has a keen sense of international affairs.”
Even if we take it into consideration that the candidates have the strategic consideration of trying to keep from confronting a difficult rival in the election, Mr. Maeng’s presentation of plentiful policies attracted the attention of other candidates.
Mr. Lee of the Uri Party was highly evaluated by the Grand National Party candidates. They said, “Mr. Lee’s policy on job creation was noteworthy.”
But Mr. Lee and Mr. Maeng failed to criticize the weak points of Ms. Kang and Mr. Oh, respectively, because they were restrained by the people in the party and their supporters who worried about revealing internal disunity.
One good example was Ms. Kang’s plan “to build 160,000 housing units in Yongsan Park.” Mr. Lee pointed out that “it required 6 million pyeong (29,406 acre) to build 100,000 housing units in Bundang when the floor space index was calculated at 180 percent of the land. So, in order to build 160,000 units, it is necessary to have 10 million pyeong, but there is not enough land in Yongsan.”
Ms. Kang only said repeatedly that “it is possible, if we build apartments in an oval shape.”
The floor space index is the ratio of aggregate floor space which is permitted to build on a designated size of the land. If we build a six-story building with the floor space of 30 pyeong each floor on 100 pyeong of land, the floor space index is 180 percent.
Ms. Kang might have misunderstood the floor space index, or she might have announced a policy that the Uri Party prepared for her without verifying the contents.
Instead of attacking Ms. Kang tenaciously to expose her lack of preparation, however, Mr. Lee just advised her to “reinforce the points I made in preparation for a debate with rival parties’ candidates.”
It seems premature to expect that sincerity and preparedness will win over the sensibility and image in the election races.
In case of merchandise, actual value is more important than the package. But consumers feel the impulse to buy when they see nice packing.
In the election of the mayor of Seoul, we should not decide as we buy a commodity. If we do, we cannot criticize politicians for not making policies a focus of the race.
Now, there is no other way but to expect the winners to use the good policies presented by the losers.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Du-woo