Thursday, March 24, 2005

Administrative Town: President Roh's Reasoning Unconvincing

Editorial, The Korea Times, March 23, 2005

President Roh Moo-hyun said Tuesday the establishment of a new administrative capital in the Kongju-Yongi region, South Chongchong Province, was a strategic choice to resolve population congestion and economic concentration in Seoul and its surrounding areas. He made it clear that balanced national development is the aim of the project, brushing aside the general belief that it was a political consideration to woo voters in the Chungchong provinces. In his letter addressed to the nation, President Roh said that the judgment of the administration capital should be left to coming generations, .
However, his argument for the project was damaged by a report from JoongAng Ilbo revealing Roh opposed moving of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to Pusan when he headed the agency in 2000. The report said that Roh thwarted the plan by arguing that the transfer of the ministry will lower its efficiency. He reasoned that the ministry would have to run another office in Seoul, and the minister and his staff would have to stay in Seoul when the National Assembly is in session.

Ironically, this is the same reasoning used by opponents of the establishment of a administrative capital. About 60 percent of those surveyed oppose the project. The impediment to administration efficiency is cited as their main reason. The government plans to move most state agencies to the new administrative capital, while keeping the presidential office and the National Assembly in Seoul. As long as Chong Wa Dae and the Assembly stays in Seoul, it will be impossible for the administration capital to perform its function properly. As Roh argued five years ago, the ministers and staff will be encumbered in doing their work because they will have to visit Seoul frequently to coordinate with the presidential office or attend parliamentary sessions.-----------------

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