Try to keep principles

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Try to keep principles

Backed into a corner by a series of candlelight vigils, the government keeps breaking its own principles, saying they are measures to resolve problems. The government comes up with wayward policies aimed at earning popularity from the people, while it avoids and delays important reform measures. Using the low popularity in the wake of the crisis over a U.S. beef import deal as an excuse, the government isn’t acting as it should. Instead, it is working on exactly what it should not.

The Korea Communications Commission has decided to expand the number of people to pay discounted mobile phone fees and to increase the discount rates for them. This is an example of a populist policy that breaks principles. If the government comes up with subsidy policies, all classes of people and different interest groups will demand subsidies and price cuts. Will the government cut oil prices when they surge, and give subsidies for transport fees if they go up?

The government is delaying or even setting aside important tasks for the nation that should be carried out in the early stages of the new administration.

A basic plan for energy includes building more nuclear power plants, the key to middle- and long-term energy policy. The government said it would confirm the plan by late this month but postponed its own deadline. Privatization of public corporations was the administration’s key pledge during the presidential campaign, but it also has lost its priority. It makes one wonder if the government has given up on carrying out reforms. In a meeting between the government and the ruling party, they explained that the circumstances are right to push through construction of a cross-country waterway or privatization of public corporations. The cross-country waterway project can be abolished or delayed because it has proved controversial. However, it is hard to understand why the government has delayed privatization of public firms, because that should be done early in the new administration.

It is understandable that the government is sensitive to public opinion because it has been severely criticized by the public over a U.S. beef import deal.

However, being submissive to demands by certain classes or interest groups is another matter.

Breaking principles because of pressure from the public is not pragmatism but opportunism.

There is no hope for the incumbent government if it breaks principles out of fear of immediate resistance.

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