Sorry state of affairsPoliticians’ rhetoric shines most when it moves people’s hearts, especially the words of a country’s president. The president has the power to inspire his people, not because he is personally attractive but because people respect him. The citizens of a country are ready to listen to a leader if he or she remains true to the pledges made during the election.
President Lee Myung-bak said he will issue a statement to the nationsoon that is supposed to include an apology for the recent frenzy over the mad cow disease ruckus that lasted nearly a month.
He will also urge lawmakers to ratify the free trade agreement between Korea and the United States.
It is unfortunate that a president who took office less than 100 days ago has to make a public apology. But if Lee in any way feels hard done by, he should not. Rather, he should state clearly that he is more sorry than the public can possibly imagine.
This is what he should apologize for. By just looking at the beef furor, he should apologize for the incompetence of the agriculture minister and his mistakes at the negotiation table between the agriculture ministry and the United States.
It was such a serious error and a major goof that the president and his prime minister had to step forward. The Blue House wants to focus on FTA ratification, but whether or not the president is correct, he should put understanding public sentiment first.
People are starting to call the Lee administration a band of “conservative amateurs.” It means they talk big but accomplish nothing, just like the amateurism that former President Roh Moo-hyun and his administration showed in the past. In this situation, asking the public for understanding without first making any sacrifice himself will not be what the public wants to hear.
The core of this problem is a personnel matter. With an apology, President Lee should also punish the person responsible and pacify those hurt by the recent series of incidents.
A statement should also include an explicit determination to try to build relations with fellow politicians and bring security and peace to the political arena.
He should also meet with opposition leaders, Park Geun-hye and Lee Hoi-chang, and ask for cooperation.
The president should drop the partisan views that he used to hold when he was a candidate. Only this is likely to relieve the public of its concerns.