[Viewpoint] Ahn’s intellectual dishonesty

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[Viewpoint] Ahn’s intellectual dishonesty

The existing political establishment certainly has many problems, but that should not be a reason to offer blind praise for Ahn Cheol-soo. When a community welcomes a new leader, a thorough verification is necessary.

Ahn is a pioneer in computer science and management. But evaluating history and addressing political and social issues require completely different skill sets. One should not decide to take up a serious leadership role without sincere contemplation and accumulation of knowledge and experience. But instead contemplating his past experience, Ahn seems to have disregarded parts of it for reasons of political expediency.

In an interview with OhmyNews on Sept. 4, Ahn said that the current ruling party was going against the current of history. But, he neglected to point out that he has worked with the current government in several ways. Since 2008, he has been a member of the Presidential Council for Future and Vision, which includes 29 elite thinkers who help set national priorities for the government. And since November 2009, Ahn has served on the President’s Council on Informatization Strategies.

It would be difficult to sit on these committees without agreeing with the president’s views. If Ahn really thought that the president was “going against the current of history,” he would not sit on these councils. To justify his criticism, Ahn may say that the president and the administration have changed. If so, Ahn should have quit the councils.

Also in the interview, Ahn said: “I had experienced the 1970s, and I felt that [the same ruling forces] could return.” He spoke of the 1970s as if they were a dark period to which we must not return. But Ahn’s past work is clearly tied to the time period

For six years, Ahn served as an outside director and chairman for the board of Posco. He also currently serves as a director of Pohang University of Science and Technology, established by Posco. Pohang Iron and Steel Company, Posco’s predecessor, is one of our country’s greatest achievements from the 1970s.

And during the 1970s and 1980s, the authoritarian governments and conglomerates created the path for Korea’s information industry. Without the path, AhnLab could have not operated successfully. Ahn has eaten the honey accumulated from the 1970s, but he is now spitting at the honeycomb.

Ahn’s criticisms also do not seem to match more recent Korean political reality. For instance, he has described the Lee Myung-bak administration as if it were a dictatorship, complaining that freedom of expression was going backward. But, this is clearly not the case. During the candlelight protests in 2008, elementary school students used cruel insults to criticize the president. Only nine months ago, a member of the Supreme Council of the largest opposition party said: “This administration must be slaughtered immediately.” A Democratic Party lawmaker called the First Lady a swindler. And yet, Ahn complains that freedom of expression has been curtailed.

In the interview, Ahn also brutally attacked former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, saying: “Oh was completely obsessed with hardware [infrastructure] and only carried out showy projects. He has paid no attention to how to resolve the traffic nightmares.” Instead, Ahn argued that the problems should be resolved through software or innovative ideas.

But this has already been happening. This year alone, the city government allocated 13.4 percent of its 20.2 trillion won ($18.2 billion) budget - or 2.7 trillion won - to transportation. The city’s traffic software, the Transport Operations and Information Service, is a world-class system. More and more people are using public transportation. Since 2000, 8,700 natural gas buses have begun operation, and microscopic dust particles have decreased by 25 percent. The city also spends more than 21 percent of its budget on welfare programs - a key software project.

So Ahn, the nation’s top scientist as dean of Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, has made groundless and emotional criticisms against the president. But he has remained silent about more serious wrongdoings committed by the left, and he has not even discussed liberals’ delusions about the Cheonan’s sinking, mad cow disease, the Grand Canal Project or Kwak No-hyun, the disgraced superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

Everyone suffers from an occasional attack on their integrity. The condition gets more serious when a patient’s immune system becomes weaker from intoxication with sudden fame and popularity. It is time for Ahn to develop a new vaccine against his political bubble.

*The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Kim Jin
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