Sejong shenanigans

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Sejong shenanigans

The issues related to Sejong City, a new administrative city in South Chungcheong, have been laid out on the table.

Chung Un-chan, nominee for prime minister, hinted at his willingness to revise the original plan.

“A multifunctional administrative city is not very efficient,” Chung said. “It is difficult to help it get back on the right track. However, implementing the plan as previously arranged is not an easy task.”

Accordingly, the Liberty Forward Party and some Democratic Party lawmakers from the Chungcheong provinces that have a strong foothold in this region voiced their staunch opposition to his view.

The project is now getting bogged down by political discord. And that should be welcomed, as we expect that this will actually help solve the overall problem.

Sejong City was a political project from the outset, initiated by the Roh Moo-hyun administration to win public support from the Chungcheong area. After the regime change, the special act regulating the character and scope of Sejong City went adrift at the National Assembly, while bickering between the governing and opposition parties over the controversial bill sparked ugly scenes and postponed its passing.

The government is helplessly procrastinating. In the meantime, 5.36 trillion won ($4.3 billion) - which amounts to 24 percent of the total budget - has been already poured into these efforts.

We shouldn’t be too hard on the government when it uses taxes on spending projects that enhance national development. However, it is concerning that so much doubt surrounds this issue and that it has been stymied by political interests despite the expenditure of a huge amount of money.

Sejong City is still not in full swing yet, which is much different from the original goal. Some people say that the total number of public officials planning to move there amounts to just 12,000, although every government agency is transferring to Sejong City. That means that this city of 500,000-plus residents will develop a reputation as a ghost town. Fortunately, the administration is devising a revised plan in a bid to prevent Sejong City from becoming a ghost town.

But we cannot return to the starting point, as several trillion won (several million dollars) have already been poured into this project.

On the other hand, we also cannot leave the matter unattended. We should share our ideas on what to do next to move forward in the right direction for national development. The political community should serve its role of promoting the larger interests of Seoul rather than serving as an impediment to the successful implementation of the national project by getting caught up in party interests.
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