Wise voters will wait and watch

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Wise voters will wait and watch

President Lee Myung-bak apologized to the public for the fifth time during his three years in office. He repeatedly said he was deeply sorry for renouncing a plan to build a new international airport in the southeastern region, a presidential campaign pledge. But it is doubtful that the southern population will be willing to forgive and forget that easily. And further wrangling over a project the government officially scrapped won’t help the regional or broader population.

It is needless to say that the president is to be entirely blamed for failing to uphold a campaign promise, which has not been the first. The president himself said “the fault lies with me.” A campaign platform is a promise to the voters and should be carried out. The president cannot avoid criticism that he’s had an easy ride on a populist platform and lacks integrity and credibility. Still, it would be equally irresponsible and reckless to carry through an unrealistic and uneconomical campaign promise. A candidate who sells unfeasible campaign pledges is bad, but a leader who pushes the projects forward knowing the consequences may be worse.

A leader should be able to relinquish untenable state projects. The president said he had reached the decision in consideration of the “next president and generation.” If it is the right decision, the president must bite the bullet. It is the price he must pay for failing to study his campaign platforms more thoroughly.

But there is nothing in this world that is unforgivable. The president’s attitude and words of apology should not be an issue. What is important is his sincerity about his future actions. He reassured the nation that his administration’s will to advance development in the southern region remains intact. The new airport promised regional development and improved transportation. The government should do its utmost to make up for the absence of the project through other measures. It must seek out and listen to the needs of area residents.

The president pledged to think “more specifically” about regional development. He must come up with better options and stop wavering on major state projects because of his populist political logic. The regional anger is understandable. Some plan to continue protest rallies. Some politicians are capitalizing on the event to make political advances. Area residents have the right to make a stand. But experts have concluded that a new airport will be of no help and the president has promised to come up with a better option. Wiser voters should wait and watch, then act in the next election.
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