Lack of respectSome Korean presidents were dictators. Others committed bribery, showed lack of will, let their sons corrupt the government and deceived the people. Not all commanded the respect of the people.
President Roh’s biggest regret must be that he had issues with dignity as a president.
The dignity of a president is tantamount to the dignity of the nation.
South Africa could be admired beyond the boundaries of its continent due to the respect earned by its former President Nelson Mandela. Indeed, one leader can change the image of a country.
The 17th National Congress of China, which concluded a few days ago, demonstrated unperturbed dignity among the country’s leaders. Yet a president in Latin America left scars on his country because of his uncouth words and behavior.
From the words of a leader, people gain courage and receive sympathy. Leaders can put a country in danger or save it from harm. The dignity of the leader also spreads to others.
During the Roh administration, many prime ministers and cabinet ministers have been appointed. Yet we cannot remember any of them who impressed us with their integrity. Government dignitaries represent the honor of the state.
We have to reflect on whether this government’s dignitaries deserve to receive honor and respect.
The unabashed speech and behavior of President Roh continued relentlessly through the last four years. The president, who is entrusted with the duty of protecting the Constitution, instead attacked and mocked it. Although he used to be a judge, he snubbed regulations.
Despite several warnings, he still violates election laws. Who can demand the protection of the law when the president behaves like this? The president once confessed in a recent interview that he could not summon the kinds of words a president should speak.
There are more fundamental issues, however, than words and speeches, though they are related.
Roh’s perception is the problem. The president often views society and the state from a distorted perspective, seeing things as antagonism between vested power and their victims.
But a president should not divide people into friends and enemies. Instead a nation’s top leader must try to unite people into harmony, whether they are educated or not, poor or rich.
And the driving engine of this force for unity comes from the heart of the president.
This is what the Roh administration has lacked.
The next president must restore the dignity of the office, a job which has been in decline for the past five years.
We want to see a president who has affection and tolerance for citizens and a sense of responsibility. This way we will be proud of him when he is compared to other world leaders.