[EDITORIALS]Needed: A healthy debateThe ruling Uri Party has blocked former high government officials from voicing criticism of government policies. Woo Sang-ho, the spokesperson of the Uri Party, said on Sept. 5 that, “I deplore the trend in which people who served as high government officials and resigned are now criticizing the government and even tarnishing the meanings of policies that they used to work on.”
There are plenty of those former government officials who condemn government policies. Former Defense Minister Cho Young-kil and Former Presidential Advisor for Defense Kim Hee-sang condemned the government’s plan to assume wartime operational command ahead of schedule. Former Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan criticized its North Korea policy and its emphasis on self-reliance. Former Presidential Advisor and Secretary for Economic Measures Jung Tae-in criticized the government for pursuing a free trade agreement with the United States. Lee Jung-woo, the former presidential chief secretary for policy coordination, and Seo Dong-man, the former senior member at the National Intelligence Service, are also critical of the administration.
Some say former officials were wrong to not stop these policies from being pursued or carried out when they were in office but now criticize the administration when its term is nearing its end.
However, before blaming them for lacking comradeship, the government should reflect on why these people had to step up and criticize it. At the heart of this incident is the government’s misrule.
We should try to see why these people have criticized the government. As Mr. Woo said, these are the people who should share responsibility for the results of government policies and who should stop policies from going in the wrong direction. The issue of wartime control is a grave matter, regarding the survival of the country. Former government officials must be even more worried ― having left the office only recently, they know the facts.
The biggest problem of the administration is that the first thing it does is to start dividing people by labeling them as enemies and allies. Anybody who criticizes government measures is regarded as an enemy, whether it is a former colleague or the media. With that narrow-minded and arrogant attitude, healthy debates and convergent opinions cannot happen. The government should listen to reasonable criticism, instead of trying to stop it.