In Quest of the Highest Office

Three major candidates quickening steps to win support for their candidacies

Lately, the three possible presidential candidates, namely former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak, former Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye and former Prime Minister Goh Kun, stepped up their activities as if to show that their quests for the highest office have begun in earnest.
Their movements are still in low-key with the election more than a year away scheduled for December 2007. But they have been quickening their tours at home and abroad to fine tune the early stages of their campaigns. Polls have also been following their steps to size up their progress in the polls.
The latest polls showed that the former Seoul mayor and the former GNP chairman took turns to lead the polls with the former mayor recapturing the lead from the only woman candidate. The former prime minister slipped further to around 18 percent level from about 25 percent lead for the former mayor and around 24 percent for Rep. Park.
The most visible have been former mayor Lee and former prime minister Goh who have been making tours around the country and officially launching the campaign organization. The former major opposition party chairman Park has not been too far behind them showing up at local events and visiting people to make sure that her supporters are still behind her.
Lee declared that one of the major projects that he will carry out if he occupies the top office, would be the construction of a great inland canal linking the j River and the Naktong River. He made the announcement at the conclusion of his tours around the regions of the two great rivers, saying that the project would create over 3 million jobs around the country, among many economic benefits, not excluding the reductions in logistics costs to move goods from the Seoul region to Busan, the nation's largest port located on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula.
On President Roh Moo-hyun's plan to take back wartime command of Korean military,
he said the next administration should negotiate with the U.S. to give back the wartime command to make sure that the U.S. would not reduce its troop levels in Korea. "Roh should have considered the national interest first, not nationalism before deciding on the matter,"he insisted.
The former GNP chairman is also opposed to President Roh's scheme. She said the early transfer of the wartime operations command would the Korea-U.S. alliance and should be put off as long as the country's military is strong enough to defend itself the possible North Korean invasion.
Goh has not spoken publicly on the matter.Lee, during his recent press conference, said he found out during his tours of local provinces that no owners of SMEs want to leave their companies to their offspring due to their bad business prospects and farmers also suspected if there are any future in farming, stressing that it is the government's job to give them hope for the future.
Lee plans to make overseas tours next month of Asia, Japan in particular, and western Europe, in connection with setting up diplomatic policies beneficial to Korea. He will meet with as many people as possible during the tour to gather first-hand information useful for the country.
He hit back at the rumors that he may try to form an alliance with the ruling Uri Party and said its part of dark schemes cooked up by his adversaries to damage his reputation.
Goh has not been idle either. He announced the formation of the Citizens Alliance in early June to prepare for his Presidential candidature. The initiators included former Unification Minister Chung Se-hyun. He toured North Chungchong Province on August 4th to listen to the voices of the "people,"he held a bull session with the students of an agricultural junior college to get first-hand information on what's going on in farm towns so that he could have a good idea on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement being negotiated between the two countries.
He met with students of Sungkyunkwan University in workshops to find ways for the university graduates to land jobs during the university sponsored job expo on campus. Goh has been participating in those events to find out what the young people want in the country and come up with policies to suit them.
Park plans to visit Germany for the first time since her resignation as the boss of the GNP at the invitation of the Adenauer Foundation. She is scheduled to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first woman chancellor in Germany. She also is scheduled to visit China where she got a red-carpet treatment during her visit there while she was head of the GNP. She travels to the neighboring country this time at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party. Her aides said she wants to find out about the process of unification of Germany and learn about the growth of China's economy so she could collect information that can be used to create her policies. nw



Former Prime Minister Goh Kun, former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak, former Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye

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