Regrets, Lee’s had a few

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Regrets, Lee’s had a few

President Lee Myung-bak held a press conference yesterday.

He stood up before the people two months after the crisis over a deal to import U.S. beef started.

Although his address is belated, the president revealed a general direction on many state affairs, including the beef dispute, strikes, privatization of public corporations, the cross-country waterway project, commodity prices and reshuffling of the presidential office and his cabinet.

Most of all, the president said he was conscience-stricken and deeply regretful about what had transpired. He vowed to make a fresh beginning.

The people may oppose or propose certain issues, depending on their individual interests.

However, now is the time to hold back individuals’ desires and interests and watch the president make a new beginning.

In the presidential election last year, 48.7 percent of the people who voted chose Lee.

But after only four months, the people haven’t held back from scolding him over his misrule. Clearly they did so because their disappointments and frustrations were as deep as their earlier expectations for the new president.

But as the president says he is aware of his mistakes, the people should give him another chance. That is also a responsible act for the people who voted for him.

If the citizens shake the president, the nation shakes, too. The failure of the president means agony for the people.

As for the beef imports issue, the president vowed to obtain the United States government’s guarantee to prevent American exporters from sending cows from beef over 30 months old to Korea.

The president also explained that he chose an additional round of negotiations instead of renegotiation because renegotiations would damage Korea’s national interest.

As the president said, it would be wise for the people to trust the president and the U.S. government.

So, civic organizations must end their candlelight vigils and illegal blockades of the roads.

The president also said he wouldn’t push forward with his cross-country waterway project if the people oppose it.

This is tantamount to announcing that he’s given up on the project.

It is good that the lengthy disputes over the project have finally come to an end.

But because of this, the president is wounded once again.

President Lee admitted that he has come under severe criticism for his personnel affairs. He promised he would respect public opinion and hire suitable people when he reshuffles the Blue House and the cabinet.

The president must prove his words are not empty promises. The president confirmed that he won’t privatize gas, water, electricity services or the national health insurance system.

That’s probably because he is aware of the people’s concerns.

However, the president must show his willingness and determination when he privatizes public corporations that need to be privatized.

If the president becomes submissive in other key state affairs because he was criticized and shaken by the people over the beef row, he won’t be able to carry out his duties properly during his five years in office.

The president, however, made several crucial flaws in the press conference.

The president is the top supervisor of the public law enforcement authority and the protector of law and order. He should have directly addressed illegal acts that have continued over the past few weeks.

The president should have apologized for his irresponsible decision to let illegal acts proceed for so long and he should have promised to strengthen public law enforcement. He should have made mention of the illegal domination of our streets, violence against policemen and attacks on media outlets and corporations that run advertisements in them.

This behavior has threatened the fabric of our democracy.

The president should also have condemned those who exaggerated the panic over mad cow disease. The president was a coward not to tackle these issues head on.

When a crisis is deepening, people want to see their leader remain resolute. At the president’s press conference, however, the president did not inspire a great deal of confidence.

The president is getting ready to sprint once more. The people feel a sense of duty to wait and see how he fares from now. However, the people aren’t reassured that the president will sprint with confidence.

In this sense, the fundamental crisis isn’t over yet.
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