New start for Sejong projectAlthough belated, it is fortunate that the apology delivered by President Lee Myung-bak regarding the Sejong City controversy has provided several valuable options for resolving the issue. In a televised forum late last Friday, Lee acknowledged that he had promised to implement the initial Sejong City development plan when he was trying to attract South Chungcheong voters ahead of the presidential elections two years ago. He added that he is embarrassed for having supported the initial plan and expressed his regret.
In addition, he apologized for having failed to clarify his position on the issue during the presidential election, and said he was sorry for filing an amended plan and sparking a controversy.
He should have apologized sooner. At any rate, Lee should now take his apology as a starting point for improving the Sejong City development plan, as he had promised in the election. And as he has admitted his mistake, it is time to end the exhausting controversy and take our discussions into a more constructive direction.
His next step should be to provide options. Lee clarified his objections to the plan to relocate nine ministries but failed to provide concrete alternatives. He only asked that the nation wait. This is an enormous national project with a projected budget of 22.5 trillion won ($19.2 billion). The slower he is in presenting alternatives, the more difficulty he will have in the face of complicated political controversies. He should present a clear and inspiring vision of the future to enable the public to discuss it in a concrete and rational manner. He needs to provide a clear set of alternatives to ascertain whether the public will accept his plan or not. To do so, the Blue House should step up its efforts, rather than forcing the task on the Prime Minister’s Office.
It is high time that supporters of the initial plan in the Grand National Party and the opposition parties be persuaded to go along with the president’s position. Although the government and GNP leaders should both make a concerted effort to resolve the issue, we hope that President Lee will stand at the forefront. He is the only person who can untie the extremely complicated knot. In addition, we expect that his supporters will be proactive in seeking an amicable resolution to the problem.
The president has revealed his true heart. And even though his administration will have to leave office with the work unfinished, it will not be held responsible for a failure to complete the project. Nevertheless, if he takes a huge political risk to correct the plan, his suggestions should be considered. We sincerely recommend that they all put their heads together to find the best resolution to the problem.