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[Editorial] New Prime Minister: Enough to Earn Back Public’s Trust?

[Editorial] New Prime Minister: Enough to Earn Back Public’s Trust?

Posted July. 11, 2002 22:10,   


Ms. Chang Sang, the former dean of Ewha Womans University, was appointed for the first time in history as a female prime minister. It is laudable in that her appointment may breach the stereotype that a prime minister should be a man. A female prime minister symbolizes the increased social status of women.

But the symbolic significance is not the only criterion in evaluation of the July 11th reshuffling. In substance, the appointment of ministers can be marked as lower than average. Just appointing Ms. Chang does not give the tint of neutrality. Newly appointed “major ministers” such as ministers of Justice and Defense are all DJ subordinates. DJ-style, which favors DJ’s own men, is repeated this time, and in that respect it is hard to consider this cabinet neutral.

Furthermore, Song Chong-ho, the former Minister of Justice, complained, in his farewell speech yesterday, that people of power tried to manipulate a pending investigation, implying that the Blue House pressured him in investigating the president’s sons. Lee Tae-bok, former Minister of Heath and Welfare, grumbled openly that his dismissal was due to the pressure from pharmaceutics companies regarding disputes over insurance coverage rates for prescription drugs. Looking into these, we feel doubtful that this reshuffling was intended for earning back the public’s trust. The surprise party of appointing a female prime minister is not enough to clear up our doubts and to calm down us.

Moreover, reshuffling is not enough to get down the dirt around the president’s sons who manipulated the whole country and pocketed tens of millions of dollars. Of course, it will not calm down the anger of citizens. If the Blue House had sincerely wished to earn back the public’s trust, it should have held accountable the two (i.e. former and incumbent) directors of the National Intelligence Service, who gave bribes to one of the president’s son in the name of appreciation contribution.

What the citizens request for the Kim Dae-jung’s administration to do now is to get off the dirt caused by the corruption scandals during the rest of Kim’s term. Without doing so, reshuffling alone would not earn back the public. The success of Chang’s cabinet depends also on that.