Politics ahead of the peopleThe Ministry of Public Administration and Security conducted polls in pairs of local government areas to see if the citizens wanted their localities to merge. It then announced six pairs of local bodies that voted in favor, but two days later suddenly dropped two of the pairs. This is wrong. How can the Lee administration move forward in the remaining four areas when two of the polls are being disregarded? Did the ministry make a mistake, or did it change its mind due to outside pressure? At this rate, it would be better to give up rather than zigzag back and forth.
A strong consensus was built during the former administrations that the current system, more than a century old, has many inefficiencies undermining our competitiveness. But due to vested interests, this has not been dealt with properly. Lawmakers, public officials in local governments likely to lose their jobs due to mergers and executives in various social organizations seem to be unable to agree. Such resistance should have been expected.
The overhaul did get off to a smooth start through the implementation of various aid measures and consideration of public opinion. The special committee on the revision of local administrative systems in the National Assembly unveiled a plan to merge 230 cities and counties across the country into 50 to 60 areas by 2014. But this plan was rejected at the outset. We are anxious that the momentum for continuing the overhaul will be lost. If high-ranking officials in the ruling political party continue to give their personal interests priority, how can we expect opposition forces to be persuaded?
The two pairs of regions that were excluded happen to include the constituencies of Grand National Party floor leader Ahn Sang-soo (Gwacheon-Uiwang) and Representative Shin Sung-bum (Sancheong-Hamyang-Geochang), a GNP spokesman. If Anyang, Gunpo and Uiwang are merged with Jinju and Sancheong, their electoral boundaries will be redrawn. Although the political situation may grow more complicated, the will of the people cannot be denied to serve the interests of specific politicians. Every electoral district is in an administrative region. Gerrymandering will result if we stick to politics. The leaders of the ruling party should be prepared to make sacrifices, and the ministry should stick to the plan.