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[Editorial] A Connection-free President Can Succeed

Posted January. 10, 2008 05:39,   


President-elect Lee Myung-bak said he does not appoint people based on blood, geographical or academic ties when he met with leaders of major political parties two days ago. “That’s not my style,” he said, responding to a request from the minor Democratic Party’s Choi In-ki, who asked, “Please make good on your promise to appoint many people from the Jeolla provinces. The Democratic Labor Party’s Cheon Young-se said, “Lee should make an extra effort to prevent connections or relations from influencing state affairs.” Given that Lee and Cheon are alumni of Korea University, they must have been mindful of academic ties.

In an SBS interview on New Year’s Day, the president-elect emphasized a service mindset and expertise as criteria for promotion, saying “I don’t care about academic, geographical or and blood ties.” What is worth noting is that he said, “I don’t care about” rather than “I will try not to care about.” This newspaper infers from his comment that academic, geographical or blood ties do not exist in Lee’s dictionary.

Regardless of Lee’s intent, connection still matters in Korean society. Ties with those in power are often more important than performance, and influences one’s career and the workings of the government. With the launch of the new administration just around corner, buzzwords have surfaced like “the Pohang circle,” “Young Il Bay friends” and “Neo-KS (Korea University and Somang Church).” So it seems hard for the incoming government to be completely free from geographical ties.

In a prayer at the Christian Council of Korea, Lee stressed national integration, saying, “Korea is completely divided by geographical, generational and ideological lines. Under this climate, we cannot exert our potential and have no future. All sorts of connections are the starting point of division.

Lee should do his best to keep connections and ties from rearing their ugly heads. A government free from ties can be an “open” government. That way, the people can trust such a government, heightening the possibility of finding common ground for cooperation between the executive and legislative branches, and the ruling and opposition parties. By doing so, we can maximize our national potential through integration and at the same time ensure the success of the president and the government.