Ahn’s ‘Tomorrow’ forum will engineer platform

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Ahn’s ‘Tomorrow’ forum will engineer platform

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Independent liberal candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, third from left, attends the second “Tomorrow” forum with policy experts in Jongno, central Seoul, yesterday. Ahn talked about his ideas for an innovative economy at the forum. By Kim Hyung-soo


With less than three months before the presidential election, independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo stepped up his efforts to present pledges by launching a policy making forum.

The “Tomorrow” forum held its second meeting yesterday and Ahn talked about his ideas about an innovative economy.

“When we talk about innovation, many will think it is about the youngsters,” Ahn said. “But I want to work with inclusive growth, which allows the elders to share the fruits of growth through an innovative economy.”

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It was a step forward for Ahn’s campaign as he had faced criticism early that he lacked specific ideas and policies. When Ahn announced his presidential bid on Sept. 19, he introduced the philosophy that economic democratization and welfare should act like two wheels of a bicycle to move forward for an innovative economy. But he did not elaborate on how that worked.

On Sunday, Ahn launched the Tomorrow forum and hosted its first meeting. Hong Jong-ho, a professor at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Environmental Studies, was invited to be the chief pledge doctor for the candidate. Experts from academia, business and civic groups were also invited.

According to his campaign, the experts’ recommendations made through the forum, Ahn’s ideas in his book “Ahn Cheol-soo’s Thoughts,” and opinions expressed through the campaign’s blog and social networking services will be combined to create campaign pledges. The policies will be announced around the time of the Chuseok holiday.

During yesterday’s forum, the key topic was welfare and Ahn stressed the importance of aiding the elderly.

He also stressed the importance of meticulous planning. Criticizing the government’s recent decision to scrap the free childcare for children under the age of 2, Ahn said, “That’s why politics and the government are distrusted.

“This is the evidence that welfare requires extremely realistic and meticulous planning,” he said, addressing his assembled experts. “Welfare is spending tax money on the people. I ask you to create a precise and thorough welfare plan on how much tax money we need and where we will spend it.”

He also indicted the direction of an employment policy. “In the past, we talked about creating jobs for each industry,” Ahn said. “But I will actively review the plan of reducing work hours to create jobs and reflect it in the policy.”

Other experts at the forum included former Vice Minister of Labor Chung Byung-suk and Lee Yang-yi, professor of health policy and management at Jeju National University.

“We will put together the various values, goals and policies through the forum, and they will lead the recommendations,” Yoo Min-young, Ahn’s spokesman, said.

While Hong’s role was highlighted, the position of Lee Hun-jai, former deputy prime minister for economic affairs in the Roh Moo-hyun government, appeared to have been scaled back. Lee appeared at the press conference announcing Ahn’s presidential bid.

Critics said it was undesirable for Ahn, who said he’s against traditional, business-as-usual politics, to recruit Lee, known as the “Godfather of Mofia,” a portmanteau of Ministry of Finance and Mafia that refers to the highly connected Korean financial bureaucrats.

The campaign said Lee will only act as an advisor to Ahn, but did not deny that Ahn wanted to use Lee’s expertise and network.

By Ser Myo-ja, Ryu Jung-hwa [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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