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President-elect Lee Faces Three Challenges

Posted January. 25, 2008 08:15,   


President-elect Lee Myung-bak is facing three challenges before he comes into office.

The incumbent administration and the ruling United New Democratic Party are opposing Lee’s plan to restructure the government bodies. Public servants are also resisting the reformation. To make the matter worse, the world economy is plunging into an unprecedented turmoil, posing a threat to the Korean economy. The external factors have become obstacles to the economic revival, Lee’s promise.

▽ The Passage of the Reform Bill Faces Obstacles

The United New Democratic Party and the Democratic Labor Party are urging for revision of the government reorganization plan which Lee submitted to the National Assembly, saying, “There are many problems. It is hard to pass the reorganization package.”

President Roh Moo-hyun hinted on the possibility of vetoing the bill.

The passage of the bill, reflecting efficiency and combination of functions, which Lee regards important values during his five-year term, is expected to face disturbances due to oppositions.

A close person of the president-elect said, “The ruling party is demanding for a revival of the integrated ministries such as the Unification Ministry, the Gender Equity Ministry, and the Information and Communication Ministry. They are emphasizing that we should not reform at all.”

“If we can’t persuade them, we have to find ways to hammer out solutions within the legal boundary. If we can’t find a solution regardless of our efforts, we have to make changes by ourselves by gaining the majority of seats in the general elections in April,” he added.

Some worry about the worst case scenario, in which the new administration would be implemented without appointing ministers while postponing the nomination.

▽ Organized Resistance by Government Officials

Officials who work for the soon-to-be-eliminated ministries are resisting intensely. Some are appealing to the transition committee to revive their ministries through government-affiliated organizations and others are lobbying by using former ministers and high-ranking officials.

Lee was infuriated to the organized resistance by government officials. However, Lee, as a president-elect, is unable to take any specific measures except sending warning messages such as “We need to think differently” and “Government officials are obstacles.”

Transition committee Chairwoman Lee Kyung-sook has also severely criticized the bureaucracy.

She said at the committee meeting on Thursday, “We expect difficulties during the transition period due to moral hazard. The easy passage of the government reorganization bill is necessary for a smooth transition.”

A committee member said, “When the president-elect takes into office, the resistance from public servants will decrease.”

▽ The Shrinking Global Economy

Another concern is that the global economy is moving toward recession. Unfavorable external conditions could put a limit on Lee’s economic revival efforts. That explains why Lee expressed serious concerns about the financial crisis stemming from the U.S. economic recession, requesting appropriate measures to the transition committee. The committee is promptly devising a reform plan on financial regulations.