Former president out of line

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Former president out of line

There has been a lot of ballyhoo over remarks made by former President Kim Dae-jung. In a speech commemorating the ninth anniversary of the first-ever inter-Korean summit between Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il he said, “The democracy we’ve attained with our blood over the past 50 years is endangered. I am quite concerned about this.”

He added that those who stand by idle are siding with “evil.” It sounds as if the current government is evil and if you don’t do anything to change the situation you are standing beside Satan. Why now, at a time when the country is facing tough times both internally and externally, does a former president make such remarks?

From what he said, you’d think we had gone back 20 years. Dividing the world into the democratic and anti-democratic world, the good and the bad is very much a thought along those lines. He has designated the current president as a “dictator” and said that one should not kowtow before a dictator. He further argued that people should become a “conscience” and act.

This is practically a call to overthrow the government. One has to question whether now is the time to do that. Even when considering that such remarks were made by a former president and a senior politician, his words were out of line and brutal.

In addition, just listening to his speech, it’s hard to understand why he used the word “dictatorship.” What is so wrong compared to the time when he was the head of the country? Is the current political situation so bad that “everybody has to rise,” as he said?

As a former president who has the experience of managing a country, to destroy the democratic process and framework and plunge the country into confusion is irresponsible. He further said that if just a 10th of the people who paid their respects to the late President Roh Moo-hyun had petitioned that a former president should not be investigated as Roh was, Roh would not have died.

Roh’s death is regrettable but to argue that a former president should not be investigated is not the right approach to take.

Former President Kim Dae-jung also has experience in transferring power from the ruling party to the opposition and he has a solid support base. It could be proper for a former president to join the debate to overcome the nation’s tough times. Advice and criticism from the former president could work like good medicine. Nevertheless, in order for that to happen, a minimum level of dignity and magnanimity needs to be upheld.
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