Friday, September 16, 2005


Th Korea Times's Mike Weisbart has a good op-ed on President Roh:

These past few weeks have confirmed two things about President Roh Moo-hyun that we already knew. First, his is a good man with a good heart, a man with only the best intentions for his country and people.

Second, he is hopelessly naïve.
There are two lessons here.

One, Korean voters need to be choosier. They need a president who actually knows how to govern. This is no easy task, governing. Especially in a complex democratic society like Korea’s. It requires someone who is skilled in the art of organizing people and their competing interests around a specific agenda. It requires someone who has experience, who as already caught at least a whiff of the power wafting through government buildings. And, please pardon me for saying the obvious, it requires someone with a college education.

A quick scan of the landscape tells me that person is out there. Goh Kun, a former prime minister and mayor of Seoul is qualified. Same goes for Lee Myung-bak, the current mayor of Seoul, whose pedigree includes a long stint in big business. By definition, the GNP’s Park Geun-hye should be excluded. At another time, the country can take a risk on unproven leadership. But not after getting burned for five years after its last choice.

The second lesson is that Roh is probably right about the need to change the electoral and government systems. The debate over which system is better, presidential versus parliamentary, is a long-running one with much history in Korea. The parliamentary system is obviously not perfect. But I wonder how much longer Koreans will continue to accept the degree of fragmentation evident in the present system, in which the president can be all by himself, with the cabinet, bureaucracy, and members of the National Assembly free to act as though no political parties exist.
(full article)

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