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"President Should Not Confuse People for Political Gains," Says Rep. Cho Seung-Soo
Progressive Lawmaker Speaks Out on Sejong City Plan
By Abhishek Joshi
Associate Editor
Rep. Cho Seung-Soo

Recently, The Seoul Times spoke with New Progressive Party’s floor leader Congressman Cho Seung-Soo on the issue of Sejong City development. On Jan. 11, 2010, Prime Minister Chung Un-Chan unveiled the master plan after two months of rigorous discussions involving the public and the private sector.

Sejong City project was envisaged by former President Roh Moo-Hyun and announced during his Presidential campaign of 2002. Numerous political factions have reservations over the ‘New Sejong City Project’. Many believe the new project is just a ploy by President Lee to play political games. The government says that the warring opposition fails to see the sophistication of the ‘New Sejong City Project’, which can help achieve the original goals in a pragmatic way.

The complete text of the interview is given below:

Q1: Are the President and the Prime Minister right in changing the Sejong City project? Is doing so illegal? Why are President and Prime Minister opposing this project?

A1: "Sejong City" issue is the commitment for the people that both the ruling and the opposition parties made. It is not right that the current President Lee Myung-Bak is trying to change the promise he made based upon agreement made by all the political factions. If there is any problem in the original Sejong City plan, we can simply modify it partially to bolster it, but canceling or discarding the original plan is clearly wrong. President should not confuse people for his political gains.

Q2: Why does your party support the original Sejong City project?

A2: We need to come up with the ideas and ways to equally distribute the resources of the capital city of Seoul to achieve balanced development of the nation, when it comes to the construction of Sejong City. We, as our party policy, consented to the idea of Sejong City at the previous 17th National Assembly. We still stick to our original plan for the Sejong City construction. There is no change.

Q3: The President plans to build a self-sufficient and a scientific city instead of relocating the ministries. Doing so would also help to reduce the crowding in Seoul. Is such a plan acceptable to your party and the opposition in general? If not, why?

A3: So far, it seems to me that the government is unwilling to relocate government ministries to the new Sejong City. This means that the president is not going to honor the original plan. By moving the government ministries to the new city, the chronic problems of overpopulation in Seoul will be much relieved. And correspondingly, the crazy housing prices in the capital city will be decreased. Particularly, even the ruling GNP (Grand National Party) members, except for pro-Lee Myung-Bak politicians, are all opposed to the revision of the plan.

So, I guess that chances are nil that they would accept any revision to the plan.

Q4: Rep. Park Geun-Hye's position has sent ripples in Grand National Party (GNP). There are two strong warring factions in GNP. Does this show a crack, which can make GNP weak?

A4: Yes. People's trust in GNP would be much weakened as the two differing factions within GNP keep fighting each other. I mean the fight between Park Geun-Hye (former GNP party chairwoman) and the current President Lee Myung-Bak. Responsible political party should keep their own promises they made to the people. They should not break it.

Q5: President Roh's plan to relocate government ministries was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional court. You have President at one place, certain ministries at one place and a few other ministries at other place. Now won't that affect the smooth functioning of the administration?

A5: As aforementioned, the Sejong City plan would turn out to be very effective in the balanced development of the country as government ministries and other public organizations would be relocated to the new city from already heavily concentrated Seoul area. We urge once again the government and President Lee to stick to their promise for the people and process the original plan.

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Mr. Abhishek Joshi serves as associate editor of The Seoul Times. He graduated from the School of Electrical Engineering of Seoul National University. He was also a member of SNU Quill, first English magazine from Seoul National University, as a writer.






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