Time for unityThe government and ruling party have come under fire for misinformation, the blame game and self-congratulatory comments. Such behavior has only increased distrust in the government at a time when the society should unite to fight the unprecedented spread of the contagious virus.
The most controversial comment came from health minister Park Neung-hoo, who blamed the spread of the new coronavirus on Koreans returning from China. Park also lied about the Korea Society of Infectious Diseases having not recommended a ban on Chinese visitors. How can the people have faith in the government when the health chief refuses to admit to something that everyone knows?
Democratic Party Rep. Park Kwang-on cited foreign reports to argue that the surge in infections proved Korea’s quarantine system was working well. Rhyu Si-min, head of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, questioned heads of Daegu city and North Gyeongsang administrations, asking if they had the will to block the spread from their regions. Even if they are aligned with the conservative parties, such scorns should not be heaped on the administrative chiefs who are fighting to aid their residents at the center of the disease infection. How they can casually make such comments in war-like mayhem is incomprehensible. Even ruling party members are complaining that people in their party should keep their mouths shut.
The campaign of disparagement has cost public confidence. Civilian petitioning demanding the impeachment of President Moon Jae-in exceeded 1 million. The post on the Blue House civilian petition page did not gain any interest at first when it first was uploaded on Feb. 4. But the likes grew rapidly from Feb. 25. Public outrage has reached a boiling point as people cannot find masks anywhere even as infection and death tally rises to shocking totals and Koreans are being turned away around the world.
The government and ruling party must stop testing public patience. They must humbly apologize and plead for the support of the public. Mature behavior out of devotion to society and the country can only help overcome a crisis.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 28, Page 30