The first 100 days

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The first 100 days

Kim Dong-ho

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
 
 
A new president will step into office in Korea on May 10. Given the tight horserace so far, either Lee Jae-myung from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) or Yoon Suk-yeol of the People Power Party (PPP) will likely become the new tenant at the Blue House. They should be presenting what they would be focusing on in state affairs in the first 100 days. If they cannot set the roadmap now, the new leadership will lose the opportunity to expedite priority measures during the honeymoon period.
 
President Moon Jae-in did not have enough time as he had to ready for a snap election following the top court confirmation of the first-ever presidential impeachment. The Moon government was able to present the key state agenda 70 days after inauguration.
 
The ramifications weighed on the economy for four years. Half-baked and untested policies caused huge confusion and side effects. The policies were implemented without testing public opinion and designed entirely on ideological grounds. Numerous policies — steep hikes in real estate appraisal values and the minimum wage, conversion of irregular jobs to permanent status, and universal enforcement of 52-hour workweek — were all railroaded through in spite of strong protests from the PPP. People have become burdened by utility fees and housing and rent prices. Low-income earners cannot find decent part-time jobs, while regular salary-earners are forced to moonlight due to reduced income.
 
It is therefore imperative that the first 100-day agenda becomes readied from now. Less than three months are left before the presidential election on March 9. The leading candidates must present their agenda outline and expose it to rigorous evaluation by the public. Otherwise, the people and economy could suffer another period of confusion and mishaps. Lee of the DP had to withdraw several half-baked ideas due to cold public response. Lee said he would not persist with platforms that people oppose. But his frequent flip-flops only make people nervy.
 
Yoon promises to guarantee corporate sovereignty in management and free-market principles. But it is not clear yet what he would be doing upon taking office. Administrations cannot bring about meaningful achievements if they do not expedite policies in the early stage.
 
 Opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, left, talks with his rival Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) at an event on December 9 to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to former President Kim Dae-jung.  [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, left, talks with his rival Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) at an event on December 9 to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to former President Kim Dae-jung. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Former President Roh Tae-woo (1988-1993) rolled out new policies from the beginning. His government executed his promise to build two million apartments in suburban areas, privatize wireless carriers, and construct Incheon international airport and Gyeongbu expressway. His government expanded the overseas market by normalizing ties with China and the former Soviet Union. Under his reign, wages rose 20 percent, car ownership surged and the nationwide connections became closer through the operation of the KTX railroad. Roh achieved meaningful priorities.
 
His successor Kim Young-sam started off on a positive note. He revealed his five-year economic policy roadmap, including a 100-day action plan. But many of the hyped plans did not go through. Kim dismantled a powerful military inner circle. Two former generals-turned presidents Chun Doo Hwan and Roh were put on trial. Economy was pushed aside. The Kim administration ended up with the disgraceful international bailout after running out of foreign exchange reserves to fight the financial crisis.
 
The mixed achievements of Roh and Kim should provide a lesson to the next government. A policy that does not have the public support cannot succeed. The two candidates for the next presidency must explain to the people how they will govern over the next five years and provide a 100-day action plan.
 
The first 100 days are pivotal in a five-year-term presidency. U.S. presidents devote most to their first agendas because the success can draw a stronger impetus for governing. The two candidates must stop floating random ideas and detail out their 100-day action plan for public judgement.
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