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[Editorial] Chief of Staff Should Remain as Assistant

Posted January. 08, 2003 23:02,   


The Chief of Staff is the person who meets President on a regular basis. Under the current presidential system similar to monarchy, the power of a person is in direct proportion to the frequency the person sits in face to face with President. Naturally, the Chief of Staff wields a huge leverage. Our history demonstrates it to the point. Quite a number of previous chiefs of staff abused their power, and plunged this country into chaos, eventually putting a heavy political burden on President.

That is what Rep. Moon Hee-sang of Millennium Democratic Party, the first Chief of Staff under the incoming Roh administration, keeps always in mind. He will be judged based on how successfully he refrains from his own temptation. He should keep himself on guard against the temptation to be a big shot. We hope he would not abuse his power to make himself powerful. Mr. Moon should be ready and willing to advise the President whenever necessary, even if his advice is the one the President is hard to welcome. That is the attitude expected of a Chief of Staff in the era when all the citizens are the "president."

Moon should pitch in his best to coordinate and arbitrate diverse opinions and interests. He should be the person who irons out all the differences between the President and Congress, ministers and chief secretaries, and chiefs and chiefs. It is positive to have a politician as the Chief of Staff with Congress dominated by the opposition party. We sincerely wish Moon would respect and maintain a rational relationship with the opposition party, more than any other predecessor of him.

Having a politician-turned Chief of Staff should not function to weaken the role of the Blue House staff in setting out policies. Using the opportunity given this time, the role of the Blue House staff should be renewed and centered around policy-making. The staff should no longer work just to bolster the power of the President. It is not a micro-cabinet sitting above the cabinet members. The Blue House staff members should just focus on handling major policy issues. Day-to-day operation and administration of policies should be left to ministers, while the staff members should engage themselves in more creative and innovative works.

The staff members are like limbs of the President. It would be fair to say what and how they do determines the success of a President. That is why organization and selection of the staff should be made in such a way as to maximize the productivity of the Blue House.