Let the opposition reply

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Let the opposition reply

President Lee Myung-bak will hold a TV “town hall meeting” with the public on Tuesday evening, the first time since his inauguration.

It will last 100 minutes, giving enough time for the president to make known his views on economic revitalization, public corporation reform, the conflict with Buddhists and the grand canal project. The program will be broadcast live from 10 p.m.

Given that it will be a prime time discussion of a host of different issues, this is a golden opportunity for the administration. What the president says will become hot topics at family gatherings throughout the Chuseok holidays. This will have an impact on his support rate.

The Democratic Party is asking for the right to respond saying it is only fair.

This is a reasonable point of view.

In the United States, after the State of the Union address by the president, key members of the opposition party are given the opportunity to make counter-arguments.

Although they are given less airtime, the media do not take them any less seriously. Private broadcasters such as NBC, CBS, ABC compete for broadcasting rights. Newspapers dedicate serious column inches to the opposition’s views.

There is a considerable amount of press criticism and analysis of both the State of the Union address and the opposition’s rebuttal. These are aimed at helping people make up their own minds.

During the Roh Moo-hyun administration, the Grand National Party also asked for the right of reply as the opposition party, but were denied. This makes the Democratic Party’s current claim less convincing.

However, we cannot always dwell in the past. Just because there is no precedent does not mean that it cannot be done. Providing the opposition party the right of reply, in any form, would help to confirm the neutrality that the new president of KBS is professing.

In this case, action is worth more than a thousand words. President Lee Myung-bak has shown enough confidence to allocate seats for two representatives from the progressive movement to sit among the three TV program panelists.

Principles aside, if he is so confident, then there is no reason to oppose giving the opposition party the right of reply. A drastic break from tradition such as this could help to quell the controversy that arose over the administration’s intervention in the broadcaster’s affairs after former KBS president Jung Yun-joo was ousted.
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