Not a presidential apology at allIn a press conference yesterday, President Lee Myung-bak expressed his feelings about the seemingly unceasing corruption involving his relatives and aides.
“I am really embarrassed and angry to the extent that I sometimes cannot sleep at night. I have nothing to say,” he said. President Lee also discussed the controversial purchase of his post-presidential residence in Naegok-dong, southern Seoul, which was later scrapped due to public outrage over the plan. “I didn’t keep a close watch on it. I think the problem came from my negligence,” he said. Blue House officials said his remarks could be understood as “the most candid apology.”
But we wonder how many citizens believe he really is as sorry as the officials hope. Lee obviously stopped short of making a genuine apology for what had happened with his relatives and friends as he simply said he is ashamed of - and enraged by - their corruption. On the issue of a private home he would live in after retirement, too, Lee only mentioned his carelessness and inattention, eventually laying the blame on others.
Lee talked for a while about his meeting with an old female peddler at a traditional market in Seoul in 2008 when asked about persistent rumors of corruption. Beginning with an anecdote in which the peddler said that she “prays for the president everyday,” Lee claimed that the government has done a lot of good and promoted the nation’s reputation, adding that the administration speedily overcame the global economic crisis.
After all the bragging, Lee said, “I have nothing to say to the people” and “I couldn’t take care of the things surrounding my relatives and aides.”
Such an attitude is disappointing for citizens as it represents a dismissal of various corruption surrounding him. That’s not a good way to assuage citizens’ soaring outrage. Such an answer is also far from the sentiment of ordinary citizens.
We urge him to humbly try to comprehend what the people want from him in the remaining months of his presidency.