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“Public Servants Are Obstacles,” Says President-Elect

Posted January. 23, 2008 07:38,   


“Korean officials have more knowledge and ability than any other officials of other countries, but their attitude seems to have reached an alarming level, becoming an obstacle in this era. Self-sacrifice is necessary,” said President-elect Lee Myung-bak during “Great Korea Public Report Meeting” held at Shilla Hotel in Seoul, Tuesday.

His remark on the transformation of bureaucracy was most emphasized since his transition committee initiated its task.

○ “It Is a Miracle that Korea Managed to Come This Far”

Lee harshly criticized the regulatory bureaucracy represented by the Daebul Industrial Complex and resistance from several ministries during the overhaul process of the government bodies.

He said, “For a month, (after his election) I took a close look at the government administration and found many obstacles. I thought it was a miracle that Korea managed to come this far.”

“Korean enterprises will do very well, if the government paves the ways. It blocked every corner (with regulations). It knew pretty well where to block. Now, the new government should pave some paths,” added Lee.

“When I said, let’s raise Korea’s per capita income to $40,000 within a decade (during the campaigning), many people (including the bureaucracy) said that they can’t while barraging with reasons for improbability,” said Lee.

He confirmed the deregulation plan, saying that the new administration will never drag the market, and will offer a minimum level of supervision and a maximum level of help.

○ “Officials Need to Make up their Mind”

Referring the restructuring of government bodies, Lee criticized the attitude of few public officials, saying, “Enterprisers had to visit each ministry and office for permissions. In the era of global integration, I made a plan to transform scattered government agencies into functional bodies befitting this era. We are not going to reduce the number of ministries nonsensically.”

“Some ministry officials are lobbying transition committee members by using their affiliated enterprises to prevent their ministry from being removed. But it is an obsolete way. By doing so, you cannot make a ‘Great Korea’,” said Lee.

“When I was in business, I also lobbied. But it will not work anymore. It is an old tactic. Public servants should think more of their country rather than their positions,” said Lee.

President-elect Lee said that Koreans are “very competent,” enterprisers are “competent,” and officials are a group that can do well if they make up their mind. Lee indicated an imminent bureaucracy reform, equivalent to “boot camp training.”