Lee’s promiseAt a luncheon yesterday with President Lee Myung-bak, the country’s elders - including former statesmen and leading public figures - repeatedly emphasized “national unity.” In the face of the economic crisis, they advised the president to comfort and give hope to the people, who are exhausted as the year’s end approaches. They particularly stressed the need to pay special attention to the poor, our society’s underdogs.
At this point, we want to again bring up the president’s promise to donate his personal assets to society. On Dec. 7 last year, on the eve of the presidential election, Lee made a pledge that he will give up his wealth in its entirety to society. No follow-up measure, however, has been announced since.
One year has passed and the opposition parties are demanding that Lee keep the promise. A Blue House official said the presidential office is listening to public opinion to decide how to make the contribution.
The president’s donation could be a very effective political maneuver at this point. While 30 billion won ($21.5 million) is a relatively small amount in terms of state affairs, it is everything Lee owns. Therefore, keeping the promise will have a symbolic meaning to show the president’s honesty and sincerity to the nation.
First, Lee must again make public his strong intention to contribute his wealth to society to win the public’s trust. One year has passed since he made the promise, but the public has heard nothing about it since. No wonder the public has become skeptical about his willingness to follow through.
The first step will be releasing the general direction he will take to make the contribution. He should not spend a long time deliberating on this matter.
He has already received advice on the general direction to take from the country’s elders. The state leader’s wealth should be provided to the people suffering most due to the current crisis. After all, it is clear that not everyone can be saved from hardship. The president’s assets should be provided to the poor unconditionally in order to give hope to the nation, and that is more than enough.
That kind of leadership will shine amid a crisis and that is the way to unify the nation.
Lee must not be obsessed with formality, such as establishing a foundation named after himself. There is no need for him to add more money to enlarge the fund. It is more than enough to give everything to the hardest-hit people in these most difficult times.
Not all heads of state must contribute their wealth to society, but Lee promised to do so in order to be voted to the presidency. He must keep his word without reservation since he did in fact become the leader. Lee has already made up his mind to contribute his wealth, and this is the best time to do so.