[Outlook]The missing blueprintOnly five months have passed since the administration took office, but it has continuously been under heavy criticism, even from the ruling party.
People say they don’t see why the government was replaced or what the incumbent administration is doing. Business professionals also don’t know what to do or how to do it. Citizens feel even more lost.
By now the direction should be set and we should have our plan for the future laid out.
The government has so far presented only two mantras: advancement and pragmatism.
If these are the only directions we have to follow or standards by which to base our judgments, what should companies do under the current domestic and international circumstances? What should the people do?
The government is the organization that must answer these questions, but no one is expecting it to do so. That’s because advancement and pragmatism can be methods, but they can’t be either the ideology or the philosophy for a country’s future. They can’t be the blueprint that shows the people the way forward.
The public is now tired of the U.S. beef import fuss, but it was still wrong for the government to only try to find flaws in the documentary TV programs that discussed the risks of mad cow disease.
That was not the point.
What the people really wanted was food safety.
Our society has passed a stage where hunger was a primary issue and has now entered one where the right to consume safe food is vital.
The most important measure for the government to take is to firmly declare that it will resolve food safety issues.
Food safety is one of the main interests of affluent societies. It is not only about the system with which to control food safety but also trade issues, industrial structure, diplomacy and a long-term outlook on the climate surrounding the issue.
Guaranteeing the safety of the food that citizens consume is thus a big task that the government needs to address.
If this one issue is guaranteed, the administration will be evaluated as having been successful. However, the government doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously.
Another major issue that we currently face is the fact that under the former and the incumbent administrations, the middle class has been shrinking in our society and social polarization has worsened.
Even if the previous administration used the social polarization issue as a weapon in ideological battles, the incumbent administration still has a responsibility to resolve the problem.
We must resolve the deepened conflicts in our society and unify our divided people. In this respect, resolving social polarization is also a task that should be high on the government’s to-do list.
Social polarization is not simply about income gaps. Thus, it can’t be resolved through measures that deal with the uneven distribution of wealth. The issue is related to how to organize our industrial structure and policies, and how to resolve issues of employment, wages, education and equal opportunity.
It is also linked to which development strategy Korea should follow in order to survive.
The former administration took this issue seriously but it made the mistake of regarding the main problem as being distribution of wealth.
However, it is even more irresponsible if the new administration believes that economic development will lead to creation of new jobs, naturally ending social polarization.
The government should be bringing in members of the elite from every corner of the nation and working day and night to resolve the issue, but that doesn’t seem to be what it’s doing.
There is no clear distinction between the progressives and the conservatives.
But even if we call the incumbent administration conservative, it still needs to reform problems in both society and the government.
If the administration uses its old ideas and fills all administration posts with its old figures, there is no point in distinguishing whether the government is conservative or not.
Such moves go against history and the wishes of the people.
There is no more time to delay. The incumbent administration must present an ideology that the country can pursue and a blueprint of what the government will do, and then persuade the people that is the path which must be taken.
The government must employ people only if they are talented and suited for their jobs, whether or not they worked for the former administration.
The president must listen to honest opinions that help develop the country even if they are difficult to swallow.
*The writer is a professor of law at Seoul National University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Chong Jong-sup