Give the president timeAs the candlelight vigils grow bigger, there are growing signs that the rallies against U.S. beef imports are volving into massive anti-government protests.
According to the police, an estimated 60,000 people attended a 72-hour marathon protest against U.S. beef imports, which ended yesterday. A civic group coalition called The National Association to Oppose U.S. Beef Imports estimated that 200,000 participated in the rally everyday. At the outset, the slogans of the protesters were variations of “Stop U.S. beef imports and danger of mad cow disease.”
However, now, protesters march and wave placards saying “Lee Myung-bak, OUT!” They are calling for the president to step down.
At this juncture, we are concerned about the violent aspects of some protests. It is our sincere hope that citizens will no longer participate in candlelight vigils. The reasons to attend the rally are two-fold: fi rst, food security, and second, people’s loss of trust in the Lee administration’s capability, including complaints of being neglected by the administration.
Although belated, the government is taking intensive countermeasures. First, it decided to not import U.S. beef from cattle aged 30 months or older. It will take a leading rol to encourage U.S. exporters to agree to voluntary self-regulation. In addition, the government will push forward with a measure to return U.S. beef already here found unacceptable.
In this vein, U.S. President George Bush promised on June 7, in a telephone conversation with President Lee, that he would take substantial measures not to export U.S. beef from cattle aged more than 30 months.
The government is deliberating on a major personnel reshuffl e. Senior presidential secretaries have offered to resign. The resignation of cabinet members is also being considered.
If the president is to have appropriate personnel to suit people’s demands, he is expected to appoint far better people with morality and capability for crisis management.
People have already taught President Lee how important it is to listen courteously to people’s views. It is time to give him time to prepare realistic measures and wait for tangible outcomes. It is only proper.
He did not commit an illegal act or a blunder so big that people should ask Lee to resign, only 100 days since his inauguration as president. As candlelight vigils grow longer, the mission of reinvigorating the national economy will get farther away.
Let us give the government time to act.
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