How to divide the nation

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How to divide the nation

Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung, a leading presidential hopeful from the ruling Democratic Party (DP), is considering a handout of relief grants to all residents in the province instead of following the central government’s guideline to dole out the money to the lower 88 percent income earners. He claimed that mayors of five cities in the province have proposed co-sharing by the city and provincial governments to give away relief checks to the people who do not meet the 88 percent cut.

To give the same check of 250,000 won ($217.70) per person to those in the upper 12 percent wealth level, more than 400 billion won would be needed. Gov. Lee claims that his provincial government can afford to shoulder half of the sum. “An overwhelming number of city and district heads share the same idea,” he said.

Despite his claim of “overwhelming” support, heads of at least seven cities have opposed. Although they are just seven cities out of 31 in the province, the areas are home to half of the provincial population. Even as the heads are from the DP and are well aware Lee is a leading presidential candidate, they issued a statement opposing the plan because the burden on their financial balance could disadvantage residents in the long run.

The fifth round of relief grants was proposed by President Moon Jae-in as some kind of “reward” money to the people when they win an uphill battle against Covid-19. The idea itself was not right as the fight is still ongoing. The relief check was first proposed by the government to go to the lower 50 percent to 70 percent in income brackets. But the threshold went up to 88 percent upon the DP’s pressure.

Lee is out to draw a line between Gyeonggi residents and non-Gyeonggi residents. DP lawmaker Park Yong-jin asked if it is the people’s fault for living in places like Chungcheong or Gangwon? Lee claims it was unconstitutional and undemocratic to exclude high-income earners who pay more taxes from a state benefit plan. But of the five relief packages so far, three except the first and the upcoming one had been handed out selectively. From Lee’s claim, the aid plans have been unconstitutional. Riva DP candidate Lee Nak-yon, criticized Lee for using the Gyeonggi government’s fund for his own campaigning. Another primary candidate Kim Doo-kwan accused the Gyeonggi governor of foul play because Lee among others would be using his administrative power to use budget for his own gain.

Yet Lee is still going on his way. His attitude is unfit as the administrator for a province and for someone who aspires to become president.
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