Plenty of words, no actionPresident Roh Moo-hyun appeared four times on national television already this year. First, he made the offer on Jan. 9 to seek a constitutional revision. Then he had a press conference on Jan. 11. Then he made the New Year’s address on Tuesday and yesterday he had the New Year’s press conference. Altogether, Mr. Roh uttered tens of thousands of words. We wonder how many of these words connected with the public. We wonder why the public feels that something is missing.
On one occasion, Mr. Roh appeared to be self-reflecting, saying, “The public livelihood is like a gimlet that has hurt my heart.” However, he soon held his predecessors responsible. Yesterday, he went further, by making strange predictions about what future presidents will encounter. He said, “You cannot differentiate yourselves through with economic policies,” which seemed to be an attack on popular presidential contenders who stress the economy. On Tuesday, he said that he had improved the economy by not making any reflationary policies to boost it, and that this set him apart from his predecessors.
The Korean economy made progress over the last four years despite its incapable president. If we had a more able president, the situation would have been much better.
Mr. Roh’s tens of thousands of words did not contain many messages of hope. Of course, Mr. Roh spoke of his plan for the one year remaining in his term. He spoke of plans to settle the social divide, to nurture economic potential, to make economic policies guided by reform, to make powerful real estate policies, to reform the pension system and to make judicial reforms. He also put an end to speculation that he would step down before his term ends and addressed inter-Korean summit talks. Still, his words sound empty, because they are not followed by actions.
The message that the public wants to hear is clear. Mr. Roh should give up on a constitutional revision, which some 60 to 70 percent of the public, not to mention opposition parties, are against. Nevertheless, the president attacked the opposition parties and presidential contenders for opposing the constitutional change and for refusing to form a bipartisan cabinet. Out of the one-hour New Year’s address on Tuesday, Mr. Roh did not spend even one minute on security and diplomacy issues.
The president should stop talking. He should enter the world of silence, reflection and action.