What Lee must do now

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What Lee must do now

The current chaotic state of affairs has many things in common with last year’s candlelight demonstrations against resumption of U.S. beef imports. At the time, the government’s missteps in the course of negotiations on the beef issue prompted massive demonstrations by the public and people critical of the Lee Myung-bak administration. The unscientific argument that U.S. beef would cause mad cow disease in humans was highly incendiary. As time passed, demonstrators went beyond the beef issue and demanded government reforms.

This time around, protesters were in large part inspired by the shocking suicide of former President Roh Moo-hyun. The confusion between the legitimacy of the prosecution’s investigation and the extreme devices used by the prosecution in its investigation have further fanned anti-Lee sentiment. The separate waves of protest saw TV broadcasters producing provocative reports and opposition political parties and civic groups becoming actively involved in organizing demonstrations. In addition, President Lee takes the same attitude toward these protests and those of last summer.

Sources say that Lee plans to make a statement on the radio sometime around next Monday ?? 20 days after Roh’s death. But radio is an inappropriate form of communication for this kind of statement. The president is supposed to communicate with the Korean people through dialogue, not radio, which only allows for one-way communication.

Although Roh’s suicide is a tragedy, Lee should point out that there is no basis for phrases such as “political revenge,” “political murder” and “retreat of democracy” when he speaks.

Today, the prosecution is scheduled to make an interim report on its investigation into the corruption scandal surrounding the late President Roh. When Lee speaks, he should explain why the investigation was justifiable while also making recommendations for how the severe investigative procedures can be improved.

He should also make it clear that illegal protests like the ones last year are no longer acceptable and that Roh’s death can become a point of departure for national harmony.

Above all, he must talk about his plans for political reform, including reconciliation with Park Geun-hye. He should also refute arguments that the administration only supports the haves and put to rest any lingering suspicions that the project to revive the nation’s four major rivers is the Grand Canal project he abandoned amid public criticism.

Lee was elected president with 48.7 percent of the vote. Why is he afraid to stand in front of the Korean people? The people will listen to him, but only if he shows he is sincere.
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