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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 23)

07:19 October 23, 2019

Short of concrete plans
: Time to put words into action for fair society

The focus of President Moon Jae-in's budget speech at the National Assembly, Tuesday, can be summed up in two words: fairness and reform. Moon stressed the need for a strong push for far-reaching reform to usher in a fair society. That's why he used the word "fairness" 27 times in his half-hour address intended to explain next year's government budget and its fiscal policy.

As Moon said, he has come to take the public's mounting aspiration for fairness more seriously than ever before. For the past two months the President has been facing severe criticism for reneging on his promise to create a fair society. He made the promise when he took office in May 2017.

Moon suffered a political setback due to his appointment of Cho Kuk, one of his most trusted aides, as justice minister. A majority of South Koreans had to question Moon's drive for a fair society because he picked Cho despite widespread corruption allegations surrounding him and his family. Cho resigned last week, only 35 days after taking the helm at the Ministry of Justice.

However, Cho's departure has yet to end social division and political confrontation between progressives and conservatives. It is apparent that both supporters and opponents of Moon felt anger and frustration because his liberal government has so far done little to nothing to promote fairness, equality and justice.

Against this backdrop, Moon's highlighting of reform and fairness is seen as timely and appropriate. The President stressed the importance of boosting equal opportunities for education, vowing to overhaul the college entrance exam system. This was apparently in response to the people's rage over allegations that Cho and his wife were deeply involved in admissions fraud to help their daughter.

We hope the Moon administration will eliminate the privileges, perks and unfair practices which have been rampant among the elite of our society. As Moon promised, his government should push for reform of the prosecution to better protect human rights and ensure the rule of law. In addition, the country must reform every sector of our society, including politics and the economy, to create a better future and make the people better off.

Yet President Moon has failed to present concrete measures to implement his reform packages. He is still long on words but short on action. His speech at the Assembly lacked an action plan on how to implement his pledge to introduce a fair society.

Since his inauguration, Moon also has vowed to forge cooperative ties with opposition parties to promote national unity and harmony. But his government and ruling party seem to have done the opposite, rallying their supporters behind their liberal ideologies. We urge Moon to form a real partnership and bipartisanship to work together with the opposition on major issues such as diplomacy, security and the economy.

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