Ban Ki-moon’s vagueness

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Ban Ki-moon’s vagueness

Former UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is looking more and more like a candidate in the next presidential election. On his first full day back home, Ban paid respects at the graves of former presidents across the political spectrum in the National Cemetery — Syngman Rhee, Park Chung Hee, Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung — and also plans to visit Bongha Village, South Gyeongsang, where former President Rho Moo-hyun was laid to rest.

Those steps jibe with his desire for a grand compromise for a better future for Korea, as he described upon arriving in Seoul after finishing ten years as UN chief. We welcome that message to the nation.

However, we can hardly subdue a nagging feeling that Ban is unwilling to present concrete ways to achieve the goal of unity and compromise as opposed to empty slogans chanted by former presidential candidates irrespective of their political orientations.

Despite strong vows to respect the spirit of political compromise and integration heard in nearly every election season, former presidential contenders always disappointed the public, as seen in sharp schisms even in their own parties over factional and regional interests. We wonder if Ban really shies away from creating a new party or joining existing ones due to a deepening concern about losing support from the rest.

We have not heard realistic prescriptions from him to address the current political stalemate except some fancy rhetoric he mastered as a diplomat. If Ban wants to change Korean politics as he claims, he must first attract many fresh faces with diverse backgrounds. However, his well-wishers are mostly members of the old boys club, mostly former lawmakers, not to mention the predominance of diplomats and journalists in his preliminary campaign office in Seoul.

Under such circumstances, Ban will most likely end up repeating such empty catchphrases as “Political change beyond the level of administration change!” as shouted by then-presidential candidate Park Geun-hye in the 2012 election. No one would interpret the election of a diplomat — not a politician — as president as a real change in our politics.

Ban must present a clear picture of what kind of new politics he desires. Instead of showing us the image of an opportunistic leader, he must prove himself a leader capable of doing first-rate politics.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 14, Page 26
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