[Outlook]Roh should work for reconciliationThe presidential election will be held on Dec. 19. There are less than six months to go. The world at that time will be divided between “ante-election times” and “post-election times.” Who will survive after the presidential election? All politicians are keenly interested in this and are struggling to survive.
Only one person is an exception. He is President Roh Moo-hyun. He is the representative of “ante-election times.” That means there will be no place for him after the election. He may continue claiming that the participatory government policies were right and the new administration must inherit them, but no one will respond to it.
No, that is not quite true. The time will come earlier. That will happen right after the ruling political circle decides its presidential candidate. From then on, in fact, President Roh will no longer exist. If he exists, he will only be criticized. That’s the destiny of the outgoing president and his administration. Even if the ruling circle’s presidential candidate is in favor of President Roh, he will face the same fate.
This procedure is unavoidable in a system in which leadership is decided through an election. It is not about whether this is right or wrong. This is simply inevitable. Any attempt to change this phenomenon will fail. Only those who are ignorant of democracy and elections will try to reverse the flow of the current, and they will do so in vain. People who try will become a laughing stock because others will know their efforts are fruitless.
Of course, a former administration’s policies can be good ones. Some of them are worth keeping. But if people from the former administration tell the new administration to take their policies as pledges, that is another story. This is a very naive way of thinking. Even if the new administration takes the former administration’s policies, the new government puts them in a nice new package. There are plenty of people who are good at that, such as clever advisors and experienced former government officials in an election campaign.
They will say there is no new policy under the sun. This is the case with President Roh’s policies. There are no such things as completely new policies which are totally unheard of.
There is one more thing to remember. The spirit of a new era does not grow inside the greenhouse of the former power group. Thus, it is nonsense for the former powerman to cry out, saying “The new powerman must follow my way. I’ll make every effort to actualize it.”
Even the same policies can be different, depending on who pursues them and how they are implemented. President Roh’s policies will be done when his era is over.
There are several former presidents in Korea. The word “former” implies that they have experience in handing down their power. Some appointed their successors at their own free will and some had their arms twisted to do so. Some were replaced by the opposition party’s candidates. They may have handed over their power in different ways, but there is one thing in common: a presidential term in office is limited and power is transitory.
President Roh seems to believe that he has taken the right path. He seems to be upset that he is not appreciated for that. He seems to think that a candidate who evaluates the achievements of his administration fairly and takes over its policies as a whole should be elected as the next president. His affection for the Uri Party and the controversy over the election law violations stem from this expectation.
But the regret he feels now will be nothing compared to what he will feel later. In the post-Roh Moo-hyun era, he will feel betrayed and the feeling will be as harsh and cold as standing alone in Siberia. He will feel the world is cruel. All former presidents went through this, and President Roh is not likely to be an exception. That has been the case throughout history, east or west.
As time passes, it will become hard to see more than 100 chancellors of universities rush to the Blue House at the president’s request. Civil workers will put aside the president’s orders, counting the days left. Roh’s supporters and former student activists who worked for him in his election or administration will turn their backs on him.
The president must stop talking about “post-election.” He must stop creating conflict between the people and dividing them between “his side” and “the other side.” Too many people have been hurt by the president’s harsh words. In his remaining time in office, he must work for reconciliation and unity. He must stop being a gambler who challenges the impossible. Instead, he must supervise the coming presidential election in a fair way. Once he decides that, there are many who will help him.
*The writer is a senior political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Gyo-joon