22 May, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile






mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 04/15/2008
SOUTH KOREA
The "bulldozer" Lee Myung-bak starts to roll
by Pino Cazzaniga
The first moves of the president, reinforced by the political elections, confirm his reputation as a practical man. The controlled but firm reaction to the attacks of Pyongyang and the expectation of economic reforms.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The new president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak, has demonstrated once again that he is what the people have long called a "bulldozer":   he pursues practical objectives, with decisiveness.

The fact that he waited more than a month and half (since February 25) before holding his first press conference (on April 13) confirms his political stature.  During this period, there were two series of events that immediately put him to the test: the hysterical and shameless propaganda issued against him by the leaders of North Korea, and the controversial parliamentary elections of South Korea, won by his Grand National Party (GNP). 

There were no rhetorical expressions in his remarks: he responded to the insults of Pyongyang by renewing his offer of openness and cooperation, but according to principles, meaning reciprocity; in his reaction, the "political charlatan" and "mindless traitor", as he was described in an editorial in the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the northern regime, demonstrated that he is an intelligent man who will not allow himself to be intimidated.

On the results of the elections, he did not give in to expressions of self-satisfaction, even if the numbers may have given him the right.  In 2004, the United Democratic Party (UDP, called the URI at the time) had won with 141 seats, while the GNP had obtained only 128; but on April 9, the GNP obtained 153 seats, while the UDP sank to 81: a swing of 40%.  Because there are 299 seats in the national assembly, the result of these elections also give Lee control of the parliament.

And nonetheless two figures throw a shadow on the results of these elections: the 46% rate of voter absenteeism, and the secession of 58 members of the GNP, faithful to Ms Park Gen-hye, the former president of the party.  The lack of precise political programmes and the fighting over the nomination of candidates were the causes of the voter absenteeism, the decline of the progressive party, and the secession in the conservative party.  Analysts observe that a democracy is mature if there is an opposition party that counterbalances the majority.  "Just as a bird flies with two wings, a democracy needs a healthy opposition party", writes the editorialist for the newspaper Joong Ang.  From this point of view, the people of South Korea have marked a step in their journey toward democratic maturity.

The editorialist for The Korea Times, bringing into focus the margin between the institutional consensus, expressed by the number of votes, and the real consensus, highlighted by the absenteeism and divisions, observes that "Korea will be governed by a party, the GNP, that is supported by only 25% of the voters".  And nonetheless the distrust has been aimed at the parties, and not at the president.  Most of the analysts agree in maintaining that Lee has emerged stronger from these elections.  Just as in the presidential election last December, in which he was elected by an overwhelming majority, so also now the positive votes and even the absenteeism itself clearly indicate that the Korean people have voted for stability.

In his first interview, Lee demonstrated that the trust in him is well placed.  He said: "In these elections, the people have told us that we must stop looking  at the left and the right, and instead focus our efforts on reinvigorating the economy and improving living conditions for the people through the politics of compromise and integration".  It is a call to "political pragmatism", which is his principle.

The intelligent "bulldozer" is moving with decisiveness, on the terrain where it is possible to build.  It is in this perspective that the expression "politics of compromise" must be interpreted.  For example, he will not proceed with construction of a canal that would connect the capital to the extreme south, by relying only on the parliamentary majority.  He will take into account the opinion of the people, probably by holding a referendum.  Moreover, he has already reduced from 7% to 6% the target for GDP growth, because of the current state of the world economy.

He was severe toward the political parties, especially those on the right.  "In order to survive the radical changes in global competition, we must be the to first change, and the changes must begin from the top.  I, as president, will be the first to change", he said.

He will apply "pragmatic politics" also in diplomacy, beginning immediately.  Today he departs for a visit to the United States, and at his return he will stop in Japan.  "I assure you that my trips abroad will not be simply ceremonial", he said.  "I will seek instead to produce substantial results".

On inter-Korean relations, Lee spoke of a period of readjustment, meaning a revision of the policies of the "splendid sun" pursued during the decade of the progressive administrations.  "The government", he said, "will respond to the recent provocations on the part of the North in a dignified manner.  The North must change also".  Lee exhorted Pyongyang to put an end to provocative threats, to come sincerely to the table of dialogue, and to realise the changes necessary to adapt itself to the new international order.  "The government (of Seoul)", he added, "is more than ready for dialogue, if this serves to resolve the nuclear problem and to lead to substantial aid for the people of North Korea".


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
07/26/2007 NORTH KOREA - SOUTH KOREA
Dispute over sea boundaries scuttles talks
08/11/2004 NORTH KOREA - SOUTH KOREA
Pyongyang's irrational anger
by Pino Cazzaniga
11/17/2008 KOREA - UNITED STATES
Obama could have tremendous influence on relations between the two Koreas
by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
01/29/2008 SOUTH KOREA
Seoul: new prime minister named
02/12/2005 NORTH KOREA - US
Pyongyang's actions are a plea to the US to save the Communist regime
by Pino Cazzaniga

Editor's choices
ASIA
Vigil for persecuted Christians, our teachers in the mission in the West
by Bernardo CervelleraThe "wall of indifference and cynicism" and the silence and apathy so often denounced by Pope Francis have become almost a fortress. Such persecution reflects confessional manipulation, which slams Islam as such, and ideological manipulation, which forgets what is happening in North Korea or China. An increasingly post-Christian Europe seems disinterested in Christians.
RUSSIA – CHINA
Moscow Patriarchate: China authorises the ordination of Chinese Orthodox priests on its territory
by Marta AllevatoMetropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate’s ‘foreign minister’, made the announcement after a visit to China where he met the leaders of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. The first priest should serve in Harbin. Two more ordinations are expected. With a new Cold War as the background, the Moscow-Beijing strategic alliance also has a Church connection with the People's Republic recognising the latter’s 'political' role in Russia.
VATICAN
Pope: We and the four new saints, witnesses of the Resurrection "where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident "Francis proclaims four religious sisters saints: one French, one Italian, two Palestinians: Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, the foundress of the Sisters of the Rosary, and the Carmelite Maria of Crucified Jesus (nee Maria Bawardy). Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority present. "Abiding in Christ" and cultivating “unity among us" are essential signs of witness. Maria Bawardy, "instrument of encounter and communion with the Muslim world".

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.