Detached from realityIn a nationally televised New Year’s press conference on Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in consistently made remarks praising his supporters — and ignoring the public at large. He did not demonstrate any cool-headed diagnosis or reflection on reality as in his New Year’s speech on Jan. 7. His attitude toward our economy and North Korea was the same as before, signaling no change in his policies.
First of all, his perception about the economy was overly pat. He said it is clear that positive economic indicators are increasing while negative ones are decreasing. Such a bright prospect is consistent at home and abroad, he added. In his New Year’s speech, he said that our employment and income disparities were being improved. We wonder where he’s getting this sunny picture. Any improvements in hiring or income redistribution were made possible only because of government spending to create part-time jobs for senior citizens and generous cash handouts to people with low incomes.
In the meantime, the private sector is increasingly reluctant to invest and our growth potential continues to decline as a result of the government’s reckless “income-led growth” policy. If the government keeps moving in that direction, it will only help dry up the state coffers. In a recent interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Harvard University Prof. Robert Barro urged the government to stop its populist approach and push pro-market, pro-business, and pro-investment policies. Barro warned that South Korea is now headed to “income-led poverty,” not to “income-led growth.” After Moon underscored the need to come up with much stronger measures to calm the heated real estate market, even the Justice Party demanded the government come up with measures of substance instead of a “quick fix.”
Moon also said he was indebted to former Justice Minister Cho Kuk for “all the pains he has suffered.” That is a very inappropriate remark. In regard to suspicions over Cho’s involvement in stopping the Blue House’s probe of former Vice Busan Mayor Yoo Jae-soo for corruption, a court judge clearly stated that the quality of his crimes is bad. That’s not all. The prosecution accused his wife of “raking in profits by taking advantage of undisclosed information” and “fabricating documents for her daughter to get admitted into better colleges.”
Moon avoided a reporter’s question about whether he had been involved in helping his old friend win the Ulsan mayoral election last year. Moon simply said it’s not appropriate to mention a criminal case under investigation. He said that the prosecution will lose public trust if it “selectively” digs into politically charged cases. Moon must remember that he himself urged Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl to investigate the powers that be.
We hope Moon listens to his opponents before it is too late.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 15, Page 34