[Viewpoint] Wise ways to conclude the term

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[Viewpoint] Wise ways to conclude the term

The first month of the new year has passed rapidly. Nothing in life is faster than time. Time seems to fly by faster when you are determined to start a task. It may be the nature of time and the essence of life.

The points in time such as New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and the first month of the year make us look back on the past and think about the future more seriously. Around this time of the year, we tend to have restless nights.

After repeating this cycle a number of times, we reach the end of our lives. The units of time may be a gift from God to let us have a retrospective moment. We get to take a break and contemplate the meaning of life.

The future always seemed rosy, but the past is always full of regrets. The days to come are filled with hopes, but the days that have passed leave remorse. Couldn’t I have done any better? Which one of us gets to accomplish our dreams before we die? Every one of us is trying our best to live life fully.

The year 2012 will bring another conclusion as it is the last year of the Lee Myung-bak administration. The lives of the people are closely related to the characteristics of the community. Nearly all aspects of life of an individual, such as child care, education, tuition, labor, wages, layoffs, welfare, justice, corruption, international relations, war, military service, medical insurance and retirement cannot be separated from the policy direction of the entire community.

Therefore, as we experience more conclusions in time, such as the end of a presidency, lives of countless individuals also go through changes.

What has and has not the Lee Myung-bak administration accomplished? Considering the promises the president made when he was elected, the president himself, government officials, political opponents and Korean citizens in general have many regrets.

Only one year is left in the administration, and the situation is far worse than four years ago. Lee promised to improve the economy for average citizens, eliminate the gap between the rich and the poor, eradicate corruption, resolve nuclear tension, and elevate the global status of our country.

So what tasks do the president and the government still have to accomplish? Fortunately, with one year left, officials have enough time to review their actions and make appropriate corrections. But as time goes on, the situation will only become aggravated, the attacks will become harsher and the president will become even more enervated. So, action needs to be taken now.

First, the president needs to closely inspect his administration. The audit and inspection function of the current administration is corrupt, including the chief of the Blue House inspection team, the Board of Audit and Inspection, and incumbent prosecutors.

The corruption scandals involving those at the core of power suggest that there could be more wrongdoing. Various illegal, corrupt, expedient and unlawful situations have been exposed, including the BBK scandal, appointments and promotions based on favoritism, the Naegok-dong residence scandal, the ruling party primary, the four-rivers restoration project, and disputes over the general programming channels.

When these cases are handed over to the next administration, we may see an even more severe storm of investigations and related legal procedures. Therefore, the Lee Myung-bak administration must initiate thorough investigations to verify the truth and bring justice regardless of the involvement of family, friends, relatives and cronies.

Second, the administration needs to modify policies appropriately. For the sake of average citizens, it would not be desirable for the next administration to deny everything associated with the Lee Myung-bak administration. Shifting from one extreme to another would be a great waste for the nation.

In order to prevent drastic changes, the Lee Myung-bak administration needs to display determination to shift its extreme choices, including on inter-Korean policy, to a more moderate level.

This is the minimum amount of responsibility that we are entitled to expect from the Lee Myung-bak administration to save citizens and the next administration from the liabilities of this term.

Third, the administration needs to restore the public good. Because of excessive consideration of private interests, the public interests of government agencies and public organizations have been undermined.

The administrative agencies, the National Assembly, inspection agencies, public corporations, political parties and broadcasters have been exploited for private interests when it comes to policy choice, operation, appointment and budget allocation. The restoration of the common good is desperate and urgent.

I sincerely hope that the president and the administration make the solemn conclusion of the term. The wisest way to secure safety and restore fallen honor is to correct your faults voluntarily.

Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.

*The author is a professor of economics at Yonsei University.

by Park Myung-rim

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