[OUTLOOK]Roh steering the wrong coursePresident Roh Moo-hyun has compared the ruling Uri Party to a large and strong vessel and said he would try his best to save it. He also said it would be a bad thing to abandon the vessel just because the party cannot find the right person to become the next captain. He called on Uri Party members to remain loyal to the party. President Roh is also the captain of an even larger vessel ― that is, Korea. It is natural that he cares about his party but his other job is to pilot the vessel Korea.
The vessel Korea has been sailing for three and a half years since President Roh became captain. South Koreans hoped that he would sail the ship to a port of prosperity and stability. But they have found their ship drifting, far from port. Through a couple of elections it was confirmed that the vessel has been sailing on the wrong course.
It was not only the election results that proved so. If the captain paid a little bit more attention, he would have noticed that. Cab drivers have a hard time finding passengers so there are many cabs lining up on the street. Parents struggle to pay for private tutors for their children. Young people cannot find jobs after they finish their education. If Mr. Roh paid attention to these facts, he would have realized easily that his vessel was going in the wrong direction.
Even when a captain believes he is heading for the right destination, his vessel can get off the path at any moment because of wind and waves. That is why he should often check his current location. If the vessel is going the wrong way, he should turn the wheel in the right direction. If the vessel sails at full speed for the rest of its journey, it can still arrive at the correct destination. It may not be able to enter port but it at least can get back on the right path. Crewmen say that a ship is “on course.”
There is enough time to do this for the ship Korea too. The only problem is that the ship is losing its thrusting power. People at the Blue House have started to worry about the administration becoming adrift, probably because the deputy prime minister for education resigned over a scandal and the appointment of a new justice minister seems likely to face trouble.
Koreans already sense that their ship is drifting. People who have to pay a lot of tax due to the government’s heavy tax measures, people who run private schools and people who run businesses are only waiting for the time when this administration leaves office. This proves that the vessel is drifting. If a ship loses its driving power, even weak wind and waves are enough to cause a shipwreck. A ship can sail onward only when it has thrusting power.
If we want to save the ship Korea, we need to stop it from drifting. We should revive its thrusting power. Some hate this administration so much that they say we should leave it until it breaks down totally. But this ship is too precious to do so. We should never forget how hard we have been working to build the ship Korea. We cannot leave our ship adrift just because we hate our captain.
The president wants Uri Party members to respect his right to appoint who he wants. He talks as if the administration is drifting because his appointment right has been disrespected. But this is only a part of the problem. To the citizens, this looks like merely a power struggle between the president and the Uri Party. In a democratic society, the power to run a country comes from its citizens. People’s support is the driving power. Because people have lost their trust in the captain, the driving power of the ship has died.
If the president wants to gather driving power from people, he should change the direction of the vessel. So far, he has headed for egalitarianism, self-reliance and hatred. He should now change direction and steer toward freedom, alliance and embracement. He should let the crew members who cannot even read sea charts leave the ship and instead bring competent members on board. He should receive advice from these new people about the exact current location of the ship and its direction.
The captain should make an important decision. People should provide the right atmosphere for him to decide to change direction. If a person is pushed into a corner, that person naturally becomes overly sensitive. This will be the same for the president. Thus, it is not desirable to push him unreasonably hard. We should not oppose his agenda or measures simply because they are his. We should criticize the things that deserve to be criticized, but criticism should not be based on emotion. In a crisis like this, the media’s role is more important than ever.
I do not want President Roh to fail because that would mean that the five years during which he was in office will have been a waste. The damage from that would pass on to Korea’s citizens. These days, the waves around the Korean Peninsula seem unusually high. It seems that the ship Korea might drift longer or even overturn. All South Koreans should work together in order for their ship to arrive at the right destination, or at least to remain “on course.”
* The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk