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Lee to underscore national harmony in Aug. 15 speech

Buoyed by sucessful PyeongChang’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, President Lee Myung-bak is likely to highlight national harmony in his Liberation Day speech on Aug. 15, Cheong Wa Dae officials said.

The president has customarily used the Liberation Day speech to sound out public opinion on new policy plans or present areas of focus. Last year he suggested introducing a “unification tax” and vowed efforts to create a “fair society” through the remainder of his term.

“The dominant view (among presidential aides) is to direct state affairs management towards national integration and harmony, and therefore ‘harmony’ is expected to be the watchword in this year’s speech,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

In order to exchange opinion on how to seek national unity for the successful hosting of the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Lee is scheduling meetings with leaders of minor parties as well as the main opposition Democratic Party.

Often criticized for poor communication efforts, Lee is seeking to improve relations with opposition parties as well as Rep. Park Geun-hye and her followers within the ruling party, another senior Cheong Wa Dae official said.

Having vied neck-and-neck against Lee in the GNP’s internal race for presidential candidacy in 2007, Park leads a faction of about a third of the party’s lawmakers. Deep-rooted distrust and antagonism still runs between the pro-Lee majority and the pro-Park faction, which has confronted some of Lee’s key policies.

Apropos of the efforts for national harmony, the president plans to meet with the leaders of religious groups and nongovernmental groups that represent the progressive bloc.

On Tuesday, Lee is slated to hold a luncheon meeting with the representatives of the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the chief of the National Election Commission and the Prime Minister to discuss similar topics.

The government is set to increase investment in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province and speed up the relocation of public companies to provincial areas to seek a balanced development across the country.

The moves are aimed at appeasing public opinion divided by the much-delayed decisions to reverse Lee’s campaign pledge to build a new airport in the southeastern part of the country, relocate LH Corp. in Jinju and build a multibillion-dollar science-business belt in the Chungcheong area.

The Lee administration is also vowing to alleviate the pains stemming from the growing gaps between the rich and poor, as well as business giants and small firms.

Presidential Chief-of-Staff Yim Tae-hee told reporters on Sunday that the government is seeking to levy taxes on companies set up by large conglomerates for group-wide procurement of maintenance, repair and operation supplies. Recently these MRO companies drew fire for forcing subcontractors of group affiliates to purchase MRO supplies from them instead of small and medium-sized companies.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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