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[Editorial] Is Moon a qualified candidate for prime minister?

[Editorial] Is Moon a qualified candidate for prime minister?

Posted June. 12, 2014 05:31,   


President Park Geun-hye nominated Moon Chang-keuk, a former journalist and chief editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo, as the country’s new prime minister. The nomination came as a surprise since the media had never mentioned his name. The presidential office had difficulties in the screening process of candidates after Ahn Dai-hee withdrew as it had to strictly consider the integrity of the candidate to get him pass the confirmation hearing and the vote by the National Assembly. The presidential office must have considered the fact that the legislative, judiciary and administrative branches and the presidential office are dominated either by the legal community or those from Busan, South Gyeongsang Province, Daegu, and North Gyeongsang Province. It seems to have taken these factors into consideration before nominating Moon.

Moon is from North Chungcheong Province and a former journalist. It is good news that the Park administration chose a person who is neither from Gyeongsang and Jeolla nor from the legal community. The selection of the first prime minister nominee from North Chungcheong Province might be intended to assuage the Chungcheong region, which expressed anger in the June 4 local elections.

A prime minister is an important position that controls all ministries on behalf of the president. In addition, the new prime minister should substantially upgrade the level of safety in Korea and restructure the country by reforming the bureaucracy and the revolving door practice of former government officials. It remains to be seen whether Moon with no political or administrative experience can handle the important tasks in the face of the resistance of government officials.

With experiences in major positions in the newspaper and served as the president of Korea News Editors’ Association and the general affairs manager of Kwanhun Club. He is said to be a good communicator and a man of integrity. In a column, he criticized the “Park Geun-hye phenomenon,” which refers to the power concentration of the ruling party on its former leader Park Geun-hye during the Lee Myung-bak administration. Moon could help complement the president’s lack of communication as a prime minister who says his piece, not as a prime minister who simply writes down what the president says.

Opposition parties take issue with his op-ed in which he, as a journalist, criticized former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun and their sunshine policy. However, the sunshine policy cannot be sacred ground for journalists. Beyond that, it is necessary to screen him thoroughly in the parliamentary confirmation hearing to find out whether he is qualified and capable as a prime minister.

Lee Byung-kee, currently ambassador to Japan who has been selected to lead the National Intelligence Service, is has experiences both in diplomacy and politics. He also served as the second deputy head at the National Security Planning Agency, the former National Intelligence Service. The nominee should be able to transform the spy agency from an organization that is distrusted by the people due to its corruption and incompetence into a competent and trusted national intelligence agency. Therefore, the nominee’s qualification should be thoroughly verified and screened.