The leading South Korean presidential candidates on Monday emphasised the need for active state support for people severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic as they try to promote their campaign promises to improve people’s livelihoods.
Lee Jae-myung, the presidential nominee of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), called for the government to fully compensate people’s damage from the pandemic as the authorities started to tighten distancing measures amid the spike in Covid-19 cases and concerns about the omicron variant, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“We need the government’s utmost support that can make people think it is better than the usual,” Lee said at a party’s campaign meeting.
He claimed that the country’s supplementary financial support to vulnerable people is too small considering the nation’s GDP and in comparison with other countries.
“The government has not done its job… While big corporations and global digital firms survived and generated trillion won of tax revenue surplus, small merchants, freelancers and marginal workers out there are dying.”
The campaign of Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential nominee of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), said that helping economically vulnerable people hit by the pandemic will be the candidate’s top pledge for the March 9, 2022 election.
Kim Chong-in, a veteran politician who recently accepted an offer to head Yoon’s campaign, said the PPP nominee will focus on providing solutions for economically disadvantaged people amid growing economic inequality prompted by the pandemic.
“How to revive people who are economically devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years should be the No. 1 election pledge,” Kim said on local radio station CBS.
“Polarisation has deepened and if we do nothing about it, we may see a situation that cannot be socially accepted.”
Yoon had earlier proposed spending 50 trillion won ($42.2 billion) to help the self-employed and small business owners hit by the Covid-19 crisis.
Meanwhile, regarding the operation of the PPP’s presidential election committee which will officially kick off later on Monday, Kim said there will be no internal disputes.
Kim, known as a “kingmaker” for helping major parties win key elections, previously hinted that he may not join Yoon’s campaign following speculation that he was reportedly discontented with Yoon’s choice of Kim Byong-joon, former PPP interim leader, as a deputy campaign chief.