A test of Lee’s leadershipWe welcome President Lee Myung-bak’s decision to deliver the budget speech in person at the National Assembly. The speech, to be made on Monday, is the first since former President Roh Moo-hyun’s five years ago and the third since former President Roh Tae-woo made the speech in 1988. The budget speech in front of lawmakers is something that presidents should do every year. The reason it has not been made as often as it should have been is that presidents distrusted and neglected the National Assembly.
President Lee should show leadership in overcoming the crisis through the speech he makes in his first year as president in this time of economic turmoil.
In countries where the president is head of state, collaboration between the administration and the legislative body is key to a successful administration. Checks and balances between the administration and the legislative body can be positive when there is collaboration but can be otherwise destructive. To make the relationship positive, smooth communication is a must.
The budget speech is a method of communication with respect toward the Assembly. At the same time, it is an indication of the head of state’s vision to the public. U.S. presidents appear in Congress every year to make the State of the Union address. The world also watches.
For the speech to achieve actual communication with the public and collaboration with the Assembly, the president must appear strong. He needs to show a somber grasp of the crisis and confidence in overcoming it.
The speech should not be filled with empty rhetoric or unilateral arguments. Instead, it should contain thorough analysis of the crisis and detailed policies. The president should answer the questions the public is asking in order to relieve their worries. The president should explain how he will overcome the crisis rather than merely saying that he can.
Neither should he overlook calls to replace top economic policy makers. If he is not going to replace them, he should explain why.
The Assembly should act in concert with the leadership in overcoming the crisis. The parliamentary inspection system needs to be reformed. The special investigation into the farming subsidies should not become another political fight. The head of the main opposition party should keep his promise to cooperate without partisan politics.
The administration, the Assembly and the ruling and the opposition parties should all cooperate in this time of crisis.