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No politically-motivated cabinet reshuffle

Posted March. 21, 2001 19:37,   


There is no need to delay a shakeup of the cabinet now that its seems to be inevitable. In view of the financial turmoil in the health insurance system, diplomatic friction surrounding the recent summit between President Kim Dae-Jung and U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington and a string of other policy failures, coupled with growing public distrust in the government, a major cabinet reshuffle seems to be unavoidable. President Kim himself may feel such a need in order to rejuvenate his moribund administration. Given this, it does not matter when a ministerial shuffle is conducted, this weekend or early next week.

With the cabinet change seemingly imminent, government officials are now restless and neglecting their work. The minister, vice minister and even bureau directors of the Health-Welfare Ministry, responsible for the current health care crisis, are understandably disinclined to continue their work. Under the circumstances, there is no reason for President Kim to delay the cabinet change.

What`s more, if the president delays for political reasons, the cabinet shuffle will be useless. It will fail to revitalize state affairs and only deepen public distrust in the administration. It is speculated that Kim may need more time to work out his plan to give a few ministerial posts to the United Liberal Democrats (ULD) and one to the Democratic People`s Party (DPP) in an attempt to strengthen the coalition partnership with the ULD and the proposed policy alliance with the DPP.

The cabinet reshuffle should be tailored to address the people`s livelihood. Ministerial posts should not be allotted to parties or factions with the far-reaching goal of maintaining and extending the Millennium Democratic Party`s grip on power. It is worth remembering that the politically-motivated distribution of cabinet posts to some parties and factions inflicted great damage on the nation in the past. Such blunders must never be repeated. For the selection of new ministers, partisan interests, factional affiliations, loyalty and other subjective factors should not be used.

To this end, the president ought to cast off his tendency toward authoritarianism and self-righteous arrogance, remembering that state affairs are not entirely in the hands of the chief executive but are also the cabinet`s responsibility. The president may have learned this lesson from his administrative failures during the course of first three years in office. The president should choose ministers with the required expertise, reform-mindedness, determination and a willingness to take full responsibility for managing state affairs. He should then encourage them to work with him for the public good until the end of his term

President Kim should bear in mind that the forthcoming cabinet shakeup is the last chance to determine the fate of his government. If the cabinet shuffle is delayed due to difficulties in selecting ministerial portfolios, especially if it is due to political motivations, there is little hope for tomorrow.