저작권자 © Korea IT Times 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
President Roh Moo-hyun enters the second half of his five-year tenure tomorrow with severe loss of public trust because of his poor management of state affairs in the first half. With a dramatic, yet marginal, victory in the 2002 presidential election, Roh took office amid high expectations that he would fairly administer government affairs in consideration of his reputation as a human rights lawyer. His reform drive, which started with the prosecution, was enthusiastically supported by a majority of the people. But the exuberant mood soon turned to disappointment because of his policy against family-owned business conglomerates and his clash with the major conservative newspapers. By any standards, Roh's first half was dominated by political struggles for the minor ruling party to become a majority in the National Assembly so as to help the president manage state affairs smoothly. He drove the nation into political turmoil as he was impeached by the opposition for a technical violation of election laws for supporting the Uri Party in the 2004 general elections. He was saved by the Constitutional Court but at the cost of a serious setback to national unity. As Roh did not have time to take care of the economy because of the political issues, the economy has continued to slide. It is generally agreed that the present economic situation is much worse than when the nation suffered the financial crisis in 1997-98. The prolonged economic stagnation is mainly ascribed to the reluctance of large enterprises to expand facility investments and pursue new projects, especially following the prosecution's investigation of chaebol's supply of enormous amounts of slush funds to the political parties during the 2002 presidential election. Despite the public's desperate cry for economic recovery, it looks as if the nation will be again embroiled in political conflict for a substantial period as President Roh is bent on revealing the crimes committed by the state. The ruling party is equally determined to abolish the controversial National Security Law during the regular session of the legislature next month. To make matters worse, large corporations are further driven into a corner due to the prosecution's probe into Samsung Group's supply of dirty money to presidential candidates in the 1997 election. Against this backdrop, it is sincerely hoped that Roh will concentrate efforts on reviving the economy as quickly as possible in cooperation with the opposition no matter what the circumstances. Needless to say, the government ought to remove or drastically ease various restrictions on corporate activities to encourage chaebol to conduct business in earnest. There is no time to waste on political wrangling.