A better debateThe televised debate on Tuesday hosted by the JoongAng Ilbo, JTBC and the Korean Political Science Association drew the best-yet performance from the five main candidates for the May 9 presidential election. In the fourth round of debates, the contenders, amid public criticism, more or less focused on debating each other’s policies instead of making personal attacks and deviating from the theme as in the past.
The contestants discussed ways to address widening economic inequalities, the irregular workforce and ways to increase jobs. Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party apologized on behalf of other contestants for wrangling about the past and pledged to devote the remaining sessions to discuss the future. The contenders faced one another in a roundtable instead of standing up and facing cameras as they did in the last two debate sessions. They were able to concentrate while seated down and facing one another.
Despite the lively discussions, the candidates failed to draw out specific and feasible solutions for the nation’s current and future challenges. None of them were able to come up with convincing insight and vision for the future. Frontrunner Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party angrily snapped, cut off the conversation, and refused to answer when he received an awkward question. Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party picked a fight by dragging out an accusation against former president Roh Moo-hyun who allegedly received a kickback worth $6.4 million. Nevertheless, the televised debates still fail to live up to the standards of the audience.
The number of undecided voters has not changed even with the polling day in just two weeks. The public still do not have confidence in the ability of each candidate and their policy proposals. The two remaining debates would be devoted to welfare, social and economic agendas. The candidates must come more prepared with refined policies and a vision for the future. Voters must pay close attention to the final two sessions to judge who is more fit to navigate this troubled country against multiple challenges.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 27, Page 34