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PM Goh Faltering at His Post

Posted April. 14, 2003 22:24,   


Expectations for Prime Minister Goh Kun allowed him two nicknames: “Prime Minister of Responsibility” and “Prime Minister of Stability”. In fact, that is what he was called by President Roh himself. We lost our hope though even before his 50th day in office. The Blue House has recognized the problem, and recommended various ways to enhance his role in the daily operation of the nation. Moreover, President Roh himself directed some measures to be devised to enhance Goh`s role in the government.

It is President Roh who should first take responsibility. Without the President`s wholehearted support, the prime minister, the assistant body to the president in Korea, will not be able to play an active role within the administration. In fact, it was predicted at the beginning. The Roh administration pronounced it would enhance the size and power of Blue House organizations. Furthermore, President Roh met face to face with prosecutors and labor union representatives, taking away from the prime minister’s role.

At the same time, Mr. Goh himself is not immune from criticism. He has tried to keep a low profile, and, in the process, has pushed himself further back in the administration. Let`s take the briefing room case for example. It has been a hot issue for a while. Nonetheless, Goh said that he learned of the final plan through the newspaper. We know that the chain of command broke down, but he should have rolled up his sleeves to look into it. Before the National Assembly last week he answered all questions with vague remarks such as "I am not sure but…" and "… would probably…." We get the impression that he cares more about his status and posture than in knowledge of governmental affairs.

In every case, we hear only the voice of the Blue House. No wonder people are confused about what the prime minister is responsible for. Moreover, different voices have been heard without any filtering. In this, what is the "master of governance" doing to maintain the stability of the administration?

A responsible prime minister is one who can say yes or no when he has to. And a prime minister of stability is a person who can change pace. To be a prime minister as he was heralded to be, Goh should make his own voice for himself and do his utmost to regain his authority. As he stated during the inauguration, we urge him to "become a prime minister who retains the authority bestowed on him by the Constitution."