Be a servantThe people chose Lee Myung-bak to lead the country for five years as the president of Korea.
That is the result of the people’s support for his promises to breathe new life into the government, restore the economy and build an advanced society.
Born to a poor family, Lee rose to become the CEO of a conglomerate. He became a legendary business success in the process. As Seoul mayor, he successfully carried out the popular Cheonggye Stream restoration and introduced bus lanes.
The presidential election result is really an evaluation of his success at doing what has often seemed impossible.
As a result, the people have high expectations for the president-elect.
Lee must listen to the people’s wishes, and based on that, he should present a blueprint for his new administration.
The people desperately want to restore the shattered dreams of the past decade, a time when they lost hope. The people want Lee to restore the economy, resolve youth unemployment and ease social polarization in order to improve society.
That is the spirit of the times and what the result of this election revealed.
To carry out these tasks successfully, the people should provide their consensus and support. The president-elect must have the right attitude to earn that public backing.
Lee is starting with a major victory, the biggest winning margin since direct presidential elections began in 1987.
Koreans supported Lee even though it turned out that he used a false address to send his children to a better school and registered his children as bogus employees of a company for tax purposes. He also succeeded in spite of Lee Hoi-chang’s bid for the presidency.
We can also assume that many people did not believe the prosecutors’ investigation clearing Lee of involvement in the BBK scandal. The video clip released just before the election of Lee saying he founded BBK must have deepened the mistrust.
The people chose Lee Myung-bak anyway.
Lee should understand that the people feel desperate. They chose him because they were determined to replace the incumbent administration and they were frustrated that Korea was standing still on the brink of becoming an advanced country. They feared that Korea could begin moving backward.
The president-elect must not misinterpret the election result as support for himself and become arrogant.
If he understands the people’s wishes, he will be humble and modest.
His decisions on personnel will be a good way to see whether he is prepared to serve the people. He must hire a wide range of talent from across the country or face criticism and resistance from the beginning.
He should remember that the people did not like the Roh Moo-hyun administration mainly because it appointed figures that shared the same ideology and hired government officials from the same pool.
The new president must control the Grand National Party’s lust for power. They were the opposition for the past 10 years, and they are hungry.
It is very likely that as soon as the GNP becomes the ruling party, its lawmakers will try to interfere in the appointment of civil officials.
The president should be on guard for this possibility. Otherwise, he will lose support from the people.
His plan to build a canal across the country was a key issue during the presidential election campaign.
Lee said when he was trying to restore the Cheonggye Stream that he met store owners and street vendors in the area thousands of times. He must do the same if he is to forge a real consensus before carrying out the canal project.
If he pushes for the canal while people do not want it, he will only prove that he is stubborn and arrogant.
Lee must also feel great discomfort about the independent council that will investigate his alleged involvement in the BBK scam. He says that he has nothing to hide in that matter.
If this is indeed true, then Lee must feel mistreated. But he should not take revenge on his foes or bear grudges. He is still the winner, and he most show himself to be a tolerant person.
Anyway, there is no reason to feel tied down by the investigation. He can easily survive the remaining 67 days before inauguration by staying busy.
The people will watch closely to see what Lee does during this period. If they see that he is hard at work preparing to be president, they will protect him no matter what the investigation results may be and no matter how hard opposition parties may resist the inevitable.
Currently, a miracle is unfolding in the Taean area. A massive amount of oil leaked to shore in the biggest disaster of its kind in Korea, but hundreds of thousands of volunteer workers have joined hands to try and restore nature. They clean stones and pebbles that were covered with oil, one by one, with their bare hands.
These are the Korean people the president-elect must motivate. They are committed to their communities and they are ready to act. He can truly lead by regarding himself as a servant of the people instead of a ruler.