Lee calls for unity, rather than debate

Home > National > Politics

print dictionary print

Lee calls for unity, rather than debate


Key government officials attend a ceremony to commemorate the 91st anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement in 1919 against Japanese colonial rule at Independence Hall in Cheonan, South Chungcheong yesterday. From right, First Lady Kim Yoon-ok, President Lee Myung-bak and National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o. [Joint Press Corps]

Amid the administration’s deepening predicament over rewriting the development blueprint for Sejong City, President Lee Myung-bak yesterday urged Koreans to move away from wasteful debates and implement a far-sighted national plan to build a truly advanced country.

Marking the 91st anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement against Japan’s colonial rule, Lee spoke during a commemorative ceremony at Independence Hall in Cheonan, South Chungcheong.

Lee said the spirit of the March 1 movement aimed at building a happy and prosperous nation through unity and harmony. He urged Koreans to overcome their differences, respect each other and renew their “determination to prepare a national plan that will span the next 100 years.”

“Although we are having a fierce dispute over a far-sighted national policy, I strongly believe we will be able to overcome it wisely,” Lee said.

The remarks came as the Lee administration struggles to rewrite the development blueprint of Sejong City in South Chungcheong. Lee seeks to shelve a plan to develop the city as an administrative hub with relocated government offices and instead create a science and business center.

Although Lee did not say his speech referred to his vision for Sejong City, he has said on numerous occasions that the new development plan is for the nation’s future and will last a century.

Opposition parties as well as pro-Park Geun-hye lawmakers inside the Grand National Party have fiercely rejected Lee’s move to revise the initial blueprint.

The Grand Nationals had marathon discussions throughout last week to determine an official position, but no conclusion was reached. Senior GNP lawmakers with more than three terms will continue the discussion after a short cooling-off period to ease tensions between pro-Lee and pro-Park factions.

A senior Blue House official said Sunday that Lee, when the time comes, will make a “bold decision” about the Sejong City issue.

“The decision will likely be toward the direction to realize the new development plan,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “And the decision will be carried forward step by step.”

He said the president’s decision will be made after the Grand Nationals reach their consensus.

Speculation grew inside the political community that the Blue House is considering a referendum to resolve the controversy. Asked if that was what the bold decision referred to, the Lee aide said, “It’s up to the media to make an interpretation.”

An increasing number of presidential aides, however, are talking about the possibility. “We have listened to constitutional experts’ opinions to see if it is possible to hold a referendum on the Sejong City issue,” said a Blue House official. “And about a half of them responded positively.”

The Constitution’s Article 72, which governs policy referendums, states that “the president may submit important policies relating to diplomacy, national defense, unification and other matters relating to the national destiny to a national referendum if he or she deems it necessary.”

The option of holding a national referendum over the Sejong City issue was first proposed by pro-Lee lawmakers at the end of last year. Pro-Park lawmakers have opposed it, arguing that a referendum will further split the nation.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

MB, 3·1절 기념사서 밝혀, “세종시 문제 염두에 둔 것”

이명박(얼굴) 대통령은 1일 “지금 우리가 국가 백년대계를 놓고 치열하게 논쟁하고 있지만 지혜롭게 극복할 수 있을 것이라고 굳게 믿는다”며 “비 온 뒤에 땅이 굳는다고, 오히려 한 마음 한 뜻으로 국운 상승을 위해 매진할 수 있을 것”이라고 말했다. 이 대통령은 천안 독립기념관에서 열린 제91주년 3·1절 기념식에서 “우리는 숱한 대립과 분열을 오히려 긍정적 에너지로 승화시켜 국민통합과 발전의 원동력으로 삼아왔다”며 이같이 말했다. 특히 “낡은 이념의 틀에 갇혀서는 한 발짝도 앞으로 나아갈 수 없고, 대립과 갈등으로 국민이 분열돼선 선진화의 길을 갈 수 없다”고 강조했다.

청와대 관계자들은 이 대통령의 발언에 대해 “세종시 문제를 염두에 둔 것”이라며 “국가 백년대계를 위해 세종시 신안(수정안)이 반드시 처리돼야 한다는 의미”라고 설명했다.

  • 한글 기사 보기
  • Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
    with the Korea JoongAng Daily
    help-image Social comment?
    lock icon

    To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

    Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

    What’s Popular Now