December 31, 2009 09:38
President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday reiterated a promise not to pursue his cross-Korea canal project, a widely unpopular scheme despite being one of Lee's chief campaign pledges. He made the remarks in a policy briefing by government agencies in charge of the four-rivers mega project, which some suspect of being the Grand Canal scheme under another name.
"It's a pity see the parties seriously at odds in the National Assembly over the four-rivers project," Lee said. "The government already announced [in June] there will be no grand canal under this administration. It is physically impossible and we do not have the time during my term."
Lee was responding to the National Assembly's failure to pass next year's budget due to conflict over the opposition Democratic Party's call to slash the budget for the four-rivers project, a Cheong Wa Dae official said.
Lee's statement came after the ruling Grand National Party on Monday also made a "solemn" vow not to pursue the Grand Canal project.
Lee said the UN Environment Programme "regards the four-rivers project as a model for responding to climate change and seeking green growth at the same time. Korea is now a powerful country that exports nuclear power plant, the world's largest semiconductor maker, an advanced automobile producer, and a country that prepares to launch satellites. Dredging rivers is not nearly as difficult as those things."
DP spokesman Woo Sang-ho was unconvinced. "It seems President Lee was saying it would be reasonable for the next president to handle the Grand Canal project since it'll be impossible to complete during his term. If he's really given up on the project, he should slash the budget earmarked for preparatory work like dam construction and riverbed dredging" under the four-rivers project.
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