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Officials’ Remarks Causing Problems for Roh Administration

Officials’ Remarks Causing Problems for Roh Administration

Posted June. 25, 2005 06:06,   


“What’s the difference between the incumbent and the previous governments?”

On June 24, a day after Senior Secretary to the President for Personnel Affairs Kim Wan-gi refuted the charge that the public denounced the fact that former lawmaker Lee Cheol and former senior secretary to the president for public information Lee Hae-seong were informally designated as the president of Korail and the president of the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation, respectively, as “examples of a revolving door,” the above words were posted on the Cheong Wa Dae home page.

A netizen with the screenname “k2649” said, “Even though Cheong Wa Dae has retorted categorically that this appointment for the two can not be regarded as a revolving door, everyone is viewing it as an typical example of high-handed personnel administration,” adding, “The fact that Cheong Wa Dae insists stubbornly that its personnel system has been carried out based on candidates’ competence and qualifications is nothing more than a recurrence of what happened in the past.”

There have been a number of cases in which high-ranking government officials’ remarks regarding recent major issues have been a far cry from sentiments shown by not only the opposition parties but also the public, which makes ordinary people fall into despondency. In response, some point out that the government has created a schism among public opinion due to its remarks.

“Consideration for Some Figures Is Not Bad” Versus “Audacious Acts”-

After volunteering to hold a news conference on June 23, senior secretary Kim argued, “There is no ‘revolving door’ in the participatory government, and taking care of some figures is not inappropriate.” He added, “Is it proper that the people who stepped down from their posts in the Committee for Undertaking the Reins of Government or Cheong Wa Dae spend their time with in self-employment work or going up to the mountains?”

Even within the government, some are calling out Kim’s remarks, however, saying, “Since just keeping silent is enough in the current situation, Kim does not need to cause a controversy by responding it.”

A senior official from the central ministry said, “Both the incumbent and previous governments seem to have carried out a ‘revolving door’ system or nepotism.” However, he added, “The Roh Moo-hyun administration is different form the previous governments, which had been denounced by the public without making any remarks, in that it has come to the fore while praising itself.”

Grand National Party (GNP) floor leader Kang Jae-seop pinpointed this appointment on June 24, saying, “Given that parachutes fall slowly, it might not be regarded as an example of a ‘revolving door’ system because this appointment is falling rapidly en masse, which can be called “hailstone-like personnel management.” Chairman of the Policy Committee of the GNP Maeng Hyeong-gyu was critical as well, saying, “That might be called ‘bungee-jump-style’ personnel management.”

In a comment, United Liberal Democratic Party (ULDP) spokesperson Lee Gyu-yang said, “Cheong Wa Dae’s stance is to bulldoze through regardless of the public’s criticisms and concerns.”

Cheong Wa Dae Seems To Be Going Its Own Way-

Prior to Kim’s remark, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Policy Planning Lee Jung-woo refuted a controversy over “the republic of presidential advisory committees” on June 1, saying, “Taking the example of Sarimpa (political faction) in the Joseon Dynasty, amateurism can be seen as hope for us.” His remark has stirred up a controversy over “Sarimpa” again.

During an interpellation session on politics on June 7 in response to the question of “What measures will be taken against recently skyrocketing real estate prices?” Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan responded, “Taking into account that real estate prices in other areas excluding Gangnam, Seocho in Seoul have had a zero percent increase rate or are decreasing, it is not proper to apply a situation occurring in just some areas to the whole country.”

However, Prime Minister Lee’s understanding of the current situation was put to the test in light of the government’s announcement on June 17 that it plans to “review existing real estate policies on a zero-base basis.”

Seung-Heon Lee ddr@donga.com