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[Editorial] Roh Defies Opposition, Appoints Rhyu

Posted January. 05, 2006 03:00,   


President Roh Moo-hyun finally appointed lawmaker Rhyu Si-min Health and Welfare Minister yesterday.

The move comes in the face of overwhelming opposition, not only from the public, but also from the opposition party. It seems like the chief decision maker in national affairs is taking “resentful politics” to extremes. It is like Roh is saying, “I decided to appoint Rhyu Si-min. So what?”

It is not the “Rhyu Si-min veto” within the opposition party that counts. When the party’s floor leader is grateful to be appointed Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy under the deputy prime minister for economy, it is doubtful whether lawmakers from the opposition party would dare to oppose the president and risk their own posts. They may think it fine to leave the status quo as it is: President Roh gets the popularity from the so-called “certain class” lawmaker Rhyu is said to represent by appointing him, and the opposition party would leave the matter and still be able to say, “We opposed him as much as we could, listening to public opinion.”

The public wanted an “expert-oriented harmonious shuffle.” To this end, the president responded by appointing an exclusive and dogmatic figure like Rhyu Si-min. In this year’s New Year’s address, Roh said, “We will be able to prepare for the future in a stable manner this year.” But will this kind of a shuffle lead to a stable start?

I don’t want to make a list of all the negative impressions Rhyu Si-min gives. There is much to be implied in what a senior lawmaker of the ruling party said: “If a lawmaker joins the cabinet, the support rate will drop at least five percent.” What would happen if lawmaker Rhyu as a minister keeps on doing and saying nonsense, and coming up with radical and extreme policies? It would be such a headache for the country and the people. Moreover administrating the health and welfare ministry has huge risks where interests among different classes would be starkly conflicting over the political characteristics of distribution. In this aspect alone, Rhyu, who is said to represent only “a certain class,” is not suitable for the job of a health and welfare minister.

Roh seems to focus less on managing national affairs with respect for public opinion and more on recklessly appointing those who have similar tastes as he does. It is worrisome that such “resentful politics” may hurt the public as well as Roh.