Give us a fresh startWith its halfway point of Aug. 25 approaching, the Lee Myung-bak administration is rapidly falling into chaos as internal and external problems have bubbled to the surface. The power conflict within the government and the mudslinging with the opposition camp have intensified over a slew of scandals. The Cheonan incident has yet to be resolved and the country is now facing a threat from China related to the planned South Korea-U.S. joint drill in the Yellow Sea. The current crisis is further fueled by the upcoming July 28 re-elections and by-elections.
Against this backdrop, the administration’s resolve to reshuffle the Cabinet and the Blue House appears rather relaxed in the absence of a crucial “traffic controller.” We hope that both the ruling party and the administration will do their best to resolve these issues and stabilize the country.
No doubt the first priority is answering all the suspicions. The controversy over the Prime Minister’s Office’s surveillance of civilians has given way to other suspicions of power abuses by the Advanced National Coalition, a support group for Lee’s presidential election. A high-ranking Blue House official who is also the former ANC spokesman allegedly met with the CEOs of public and private corporations. He is also known to have mediated between the ANC and the government regarding public appointments and financial aid.
The opposition Democratic Party leadership has raised the possibility of internal power conflicts within the government, pointing to the two scandals as the basis for its suspicions. However, raising suspicions without concrete evidence amounts to a political offensive. It only creates confusion among the public and aggravates their distrust toward politicians. The opposition party’s actions could also damage the integrity of people from a particular area. Only when the opposition starts acting rationally can it gain credibility for the suspicions it has raised so far.
The allegation that there was intraparty friction between the staff of the Blue House and the Prime Minister’s Office has also incited confusion. Prime Minister Chung Un-chan tried, but failed to advocate for the Sejong City revision. Although this has scarred his leadership, it would not be desirable for him to suffer more pain than necessary. The Blue House needs to handle his departure from power in a mature fashion.
President Lee may be watching all the fuss with anguish and anxiety, but in the end it is he who must resolve these issues. We urge Lee to resolve the current deadlock and brace for a fresh start in the second half of his term.