Be reasonablePresident Lee Myung-bak and Sohn Hak-kyu, the chairman of the United Democratic Party, met yesterday. Their meeting illustrates the current political deadlock.
Ten days ago, two leaders of the ruling party circle confirmed they were at odds with each other. Now the president and the leader of the opposition party have shaken hands but with what results? The Lee-Sohn meeting was prepared too hastily and the content for discussion was too shallow.
The president’s meetings must be seriously thought through. When a country’s leader meets someone to talk over an issue, there should be some improvement and deepening in the understanding of the matter at hand. As to the U.S. beef issue, the president should have met opposition leaders earlier and persuaded them with enthusiasm and accurate data.
President Lee told Sohn that beef from cows older than 30 months probably won’t be imported. Korean importers voluntarily agreed not to do so, he said.
But this is not the best way of persuading others. The opposition party will only push harder, by asking that if there is no need to import beef of animals of 30 months and older, why can’t this be written in the agreement? The president should have said that Americans make sausages and hamburgers with beef of cows 30 months old and older and that they enjoy the food.
Sohn said it was no good talking about the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement now without renegotiating U.S. beef imports. This is a populist move to side with people who have overblown worries about the issue.
If Sohn is a responsible leader of the opposition party, he must bravely tell the people to handle the truth and not worry excessively, while at the same time criticizing the government’s mistakes.
Sohn used to maintain that the free trade accord must be ratified in the current National Assembly. But the beef import issue and the free trade agreement have nothing to do with each other. Sohn must be aware of this. But due to the sentiment and pressure within his party, he seems to have lost his convictions. He once said the opposition party would cooperate when cooperation was needed and oppose when appropriate. Such reasonable acts are required for the trade pact to be ratified. The trade pact will improve people’s livelihoods and increase the number of jobs.
If Sohn doesn’t oblige over the issue, what other issues can he cooperate on?