[VIEWPOINT]Who will take responsibility?Right after the Kim Dae-Jung administration was launched in March 1998, there was a lot of debate by the prosecution of whether it should start investigations of the former deputy prime minister and minister of finance and economy, Kang Kyong-shik, and the former senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, Kim In-ho. There was strong resistance to undertaking such an investigation and it was argued that “it is inappropriate to make a policy failure an object of judicial judgment.”
However, the opposition was not strong enough to silence the raging public opinion that “the people want to know about the economic misrule that brought about an unprecedented foreign exchange crisis.”
Finally, the prosecution started an investigation of the economic mismanagement of the government under former President Kim Young-sam, according to the then-prevailing “law of people’s emotional judgement,” and the two former high-ranking officials were indicted.
However, the judiciary at the time took the position that “the mistake committed by the economic team was their failure to recognize the reality of the foreign exchange crisis, and this process was, in a way, caused by psychological obsession.”
Later, the prosecution’s investigation provided a logical ground to debate “whether it is rational to make a legal case out of a failed policy.” It has also received a positive evaluation foreshowing that the “moral hazard” of government officials could become an object of punishment.
In that context, how can we hold the Roh Moo-hyun administration’s real estate policymakers responsible for making the whole country an arena for speculative real estate gambling?
The public opinion that “the government officials who come up with excuses and avoid responsibility instead of acknowledging their policy failures should be reprimanded and punished legally” is growing stronger.
The angry responses of Internet users to an article posted on the Blue House Web site in the name of the presidential secretary for public relations, which read, “people who purchase a house now at a high price will have trouble later,” seem to be even stronger than the critical public opinion against the Kim Young-sam government’s economic misrule.
Harsh statements, such as, “The incompetent government even has the nerve, far from reflecting on its mistakes, to come into my living room and put its nose into my property rights,” or, “Take back the medals given to the Aug. 31 real estate policy makers, whose crimes amount to being national traitors, and arrest and investigate them immediately,” show that the dissatisfaction of the people with the government has reached its limit.
On top of that, Blue House staff who speak and act vulgarly and the shallow and rash attitude of a certain cabinet minister who is busy studying the face of the president is provoking more anger and hatred among people. This can be interpreted as more than enough to apply the law of people’s emotion to this government.
However, I don’t know whether it is fortunate or not, but it seems that policy failures cannot be the object of criminal punishment under existing law. This is because Kang Kyong-shik and Kim In-ho, who were indicted as responsible for economic mismanagement, were found not guilty, and there is no appropriate law to apply to the real estate policy makers of the current government. As the debate on whether the policy is a failure is still ongoing, it is not easy to know for sure who was responsible.
The idea that “people who suffered financial damages because they believed in the words of the government and didn’t buy houses should file a group lawsuit against the government” seems doomed to be ineffective in the current judicial system.
From the perspective of the people, it would be desirable for them to decide on real estate matters on their own judgement, suspecting that the policy makers suffer from the obsession that they should force down housing prices.
Psychologists say that “continuously re-examining one’s own decisions and harassing concerned people is also a sort of psychological obsession.”
One characteristic of obsession is feeling relieved when one gives stronger prescriptions continuously, thinking “Am I really doing right? I still feel like something will go wrong.”
Would we not have answers if we substituted the real estate policy planners for those people suffering obsession? It is because obsessive behavior is repetitive, goal-oriented and intentional and is caused by a compulsive way of thinking.
However, the damage to the people and the nation is too big for a policy failure caused by obsession. That is why the people cannot get over their anger easily.
Who knows? A special law to inquire into the truth of the real estate policy failure and punish those involved could suddenly be enacted like other special laws that the policy makers of the current government have been fond of.
by Park Jai-hyun