When a president loses public supportPresident Roh Moo-hyun, as a presidential candidate, asserted that assemblymen and presidents should have the same term in office. He used to be called the people’s lawyer, a president who had the ability to mediate the interests of diverse groups. However, now the president is hardly getting any support.
From his suggestion to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to change the name of the East Sea (“Sea of Japan”) to his notion of revising the constitution to change the president’s term, the public can no longer tolerate Mr. Roh’s illogical statements. As a person who trusted Kim Dae-jung’s hand-picked successor, I am saddened to watch the news broadcast more controversial statements by Mr. Roh.
Wanting to amend the Constitution shows ostensibly that he wants to create a transparent and cooperative administration while wanting to delay the agenda of political parties, such as the splitting apart of the Uri Party. The party is divided into groups of different interests. By holding all of them in the National Assembly, they would have to follow the law, whether they participate in voting for the revision of the Constitution or not. Does he want to look presidential? If he did, he would not have wanted to “negotiate” the name of the East Sea.
The press and the public cannot just evaluate the president on his support rates. If the president does not carry out the country’s interests properly, then it is our intrinsic right as citizens to speak up. The public should press the National Assembly and the president, or else the flaws of a representative democracy will prevail.
Kim Tae-ho, Duchon-dong, Seoul
Issues to ponder on housing policy
The half-price apartment policy, which will have a substantial effect on the real estate market, is coming up as the main issue in the presidential election. Where land prices take up 60 to 70 percent of the cost of house construction, the cost of homes in metropolitan areas could be halved if the cost of land was deducted. However, to give realistic hope to the people with policies that do not turn out to be empty pledges later, we have to settle these issues:
First, the Korean Housing Corporation and Korea Land Corporation, the main bodies in charge of the half-price policy, should be unified. The “Korean land and housing construction policy bill” is being reviewed for enactment of the union. This bill was presented to The National Assembly in 2005 but was repealed due to opposition from the governing and opposition parties. The labor unions of both corporations also firmly oppose the policy. The issue should be clearly settled as the two companies have contrary views on the half-price policy.
Second is securing enough building land for a policy first introduced in Sweden, which holds that land is the property of the nation and housing is available to be rented by the people ― a socialist system. The question is whether it will be applicable to Korean conditions.
Our society has a distinctive attachment to land. The government should review who would actually rent the half-priced apartments and should educate the people, from elementary school up, that houses are to live in, not to own as property.
Lastly, increasing the floor space index could make the half-price policy practicable, but reducing it could have adverse effects. The matter should be reviewed with care. As seen in France, cheap prices can achieve stability at the expense of urban vitality.
Son Sung-tae, an advisor for the construction of the New Administrative City