[Letter to the editor]Past administrations share FTA blame

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[Letter to the editor]Past administrations share FTA blame

Yet another year is ending, with yet another feud over the president’s “oral legacy.” The nation is engaging in what has seemingly become political vogue: Spurred on by the media, citizens sing the chorus of “the government does nothing productive.”
Although by no means do I intend to defend the government from those who say it’s not worth its salary, I believe that we citizens are partly at fault for the government’s underperformance. We have spent the last three years of this administration placing blame.
Take the FTA issue, for instance. The hottest potato is undoubtedly the problem of opening the rice market. Ever since the beginning of the negotiations, overwhelming opposition has blamed the government for having done nothing to prepare the Korean rice market to withstand foreign competition.
However, such claims are unjustified. We must acknowledge that the issue has been at least 10 years old: The Uruguay Round mandated that tariffs be abolished from the rice market as early as 1994.
The new round in 1999 made it clear that Korea must open its rice market; a Chosun Ilbo article published on Oct. 16, 1999 already predicted that agricultural production would decrease by 35 percent in the next 10 years without preparation against foreign competition.
Both of these agreements specified that negotiations for actual opening of the rice market would take place in 2004. In other words, administrations before the Roh administration had at least five years, if not 10 since the Uruguay Round, to prepare for the FTA, whereas the Roh administration was inaugurated in 2003, a year before the negotiations.
It is more than clear that accusing the wrong government of doing nothing to correct the past is not only futile but also is not the right way of putting the past behind and doing what can be done in the present.
The fifth round of the negotiations was delayed to Jan. 15; if we were to repeat this cycle of evil, there is no telling as to when all the delaying will finally stop.
The next election is one year away; if all we can say about the government that we elected is that it was stupid, then what does that say about us?
Kim Yunsieg, a sophomore at Daewon Foreign Language High School
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