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[Editorial] What is More Important than a Reprimand in the Lee Ki-jun Case?

[Editorial] What is More Important than a Reprimand in the Lee Ki-jun Case?

Posted January. 10, 2005 22:55,   


It is reported that President Roh Moo-hyun will accept the resignation of Chief Secretary for Civil Affairs Park Jung-kyu and Chief Personnel Secretary Jeong Chan-yong in regards to the current stir created by former Education Minister Lee Ki-jun’s appointment. Yet, it seems it will take a very long time before the things calm down, as the opposition party is still strongly arguing to hold Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan and Chief of Secretary Kim Woo-sik accountable.

The Prime Minister claims he needs not take responsibility for the examination of the concerned government officials, as he only recommended it. However, it does not necessarily mean that he, as “responsible Premier,” is free from political and moral responsibility. It is all the more so, given that it should be noted that his strong recommendation resulted in insufficient examination of the concerned officials. Accordingly, he should duly provide explanations on the process and background of his recommendation and apologize to the public, independent from ongoing political disputes over whether he should remain in office.

Chief of Secretary Kim Woo-sik is no exception. He is the head of the personnel recommendation committee and is also responsible for the appointment verification process. Not only that, he is still entrapped in controversies over his alleged “favoritism” due to his personal relationship with former Vice Prime Minister Lee. Kim, as chief of secretary, should clarify the doubts not for the President, but for the public. After all, the President’s rejection of Kim’s resignation does not lead to the fulfillment of his liability.

The recent controversies regarding Cheong Wa Dae officials’ appointments have revealed the loopholes in the appointment system of this participatory government, ranging from the President’s appointment criteria to the recommendation, examination and nomination of government officials. Therein lies the reason why the government’s personnel system needs fundamental changes, not mere reprehensive measures like the replacement of one or two secretariats. Until now, for instance, ministers would come and go only after their tenure expired. There should be clear principles of appointment including the future direction of the national governance and the performance of the candidates as ministers.

The job of recommending and verifying personnel and who should be in charge for the process should be further clarified, too, to prevent the recurrence of a case in which every competent candidate absurdly passes the quality examination once he is recommended. Among the solutions is the President’s recent proposal, which is the introduction of a ministerial confirmation hearing. Appointment of government officials amounts to the start of national governance, not the end of it.