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[Editorial] Roh Can Turn Things Around

Posted October. 27, 2006 06:59,   


The president shows the people his vision through policies and executes these policies, with the trust and support of the people. The medium between the president and the people is his personnel. If the president keeps a well-knit administration, he has done his job. But President Roh Moo-hyun has repeatedly made mistakes during the last three years and eight months. This is the biggest reason why the president himself and the people have been unhappy throughout Roh’s term.

The president deserves the blame for the failure of the administration due to flaws in his personnel decisions. The only person, who can correct the wrongs by making the right personnel decisions, is also the president. If President Roh reshuffles officials at Cheong Wa Dae and the cabinet and replaces them with personnel the nation can trust, he will be able to turn the affairs of state around and receive praise.

This is why it is imperative that President Roh should bring in new faces instead of moving old ones around, when he reshuffles his diplomacy and security team. If he looks to officials who are on his side, he will lose the chance to make up for the mistakes in security policies.

The president’s right to implement personnel management does not necessarily give him the power to do as he wishes. He must make personnel decisions according to the Constitution, which states that the power is in the hands of the people and should consider the fate of his people. Most of the problems that surfaced in security, education, and economic policies were due to problems in personnel management. The president must admit that the problems were due to his awry personnel management decisions.

Whether it is the president or the minister, they must take responsibility for policy failures. To the Roh administration’s officials responsible for foreign, security and defense policy, however, there’s no sign of regret for failing to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and for bringing the recent strained relationship between South Korea and the U.S..

Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok and Minister of National Defense Yoon Kwang-ung did resign, but both failed to admit their mistakes. Unification Minister Lee said that he does not feel he made a big mistake in policies toward the North and made it look as if he was targeted as the scapegoat. He also strongly suggested that he is certain tolerant policies toward the North brought good results. He had other ideas in mind when went further than the president in embracing North Korea, and had falling-outs with other ministries for trying to monopolize information regarding North Korea.

The people know that things are not going well. Yet, there is no one who stands up to take the blame. There is no one with the responsibility. Song Min-soon, the president`s chief adviser on foreign affairs, who gave rise to public criticism with incautious remarks and Minister of Construction and Transportation Choo Byung-jik, who announced wavering policies on real estate, should also be dismissed.

Chief Advisor Song damaged the relationship with the U.S. by saying, “The U.S. is the country that fought the most wars in history.”

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld`s reportedly responded, “30 thousand died and 100 thousand were injured during the Korean War.”

Such exchanges weaken the alliance. What would the U.S. think if Chief Advisor Song becomes the new foreign minister? Would they think Korea is serious about repairing the Korea-U.S. relationship?

It is not too late for President Roh to make necessary changes and make the right decisions. He still has 16 months and this is enough to turn things around. He must do this for his own good and for the people. This is a chance for the president to turn misfortune into a blessing.