Truth and consequencesPresident Roh Moo-hyun has said again that the suspicions revolving around his close aides sound like “something out of a storybook.” Of course he wants to deny these allegations because they are about people he trusts. But just as there is a profound difference between the leader of a street gang and a nation, there should be a difference in how these two react when their trusted confidants are accused of corruption. But instead of punishing his aides, Roh has lashed out at those who have reported on their wrongdoing. It seems doubtful that he is being informed correctly about these issues. Responding to questions about why Kim Man-bok, the spy agency chief, made several media appearances in Afghanistan -- possibly to show off his work presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-seon used the example of a French spy agency that helped a French female hostage return home. Cheon said the French spy head led the negotiations and returned home with the hostage on the same flight, both of them appearing on live TV. But the head of the French spy agency has never been criticized by the French media.
To explain the concept of political determination, Roh has often cited the case of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, whose government collapsed after he introduced a federal surtax. But the truth is that the collapse of Mulroney’s administration stemmed from the failure of the vote for Quebec separation and the government had no choice but to introduce the surtax because the economy was deep in the red. When the economy returned to the black, it was not because of the surtax but because the economy had recovered. Canadian economists say Mulroney’s surtax idea was the cause of the worst economic downturn in Canadian history. President Roh has also said, “It’s wrong that 60 percent of Seoul National University students are from the Gangnam area.” But it turned out that that number came from foreigners’ admission screenings. The actual number of Korean students from the Gangnam area was only 11.7 percent in 2006, down from 14.5 percent in 1994.
One has to be concerned about the nation’s administration when the president does not have the basic facts right. It is not clear whether he is only listening to what he wants to hear, or whether the aides around him confuse him with sweet talk. If the president is being providing with inaccurate information, that should be stopped now. If there is any manipulation of the truth that Roh knows about, then this government is guilty of deceiving the public.