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Cheong Wa Dae’s Crisis Management in Need of Fixing

Posted February. 28, 2008 03:17,   


A vast majority say that the primary cause for the botched nominations is poor selection and incomplete screening. One official said, “President Lee Myung-bak places a priority on economic revival. But he was given a trash bag full of stained candidates. He should at least be given a blank canvas to work with.”

With the help of Seoul city personnel manager Yoon Han-hong, presidential secretary for planning and coordination Park Young-joon was in charge of screening and the final decision was made by President Lee and Yu Woo-ik, presidential chief of staff. For security reasons, the nomination process was carried out secretly, rather than through open channels such as a personnel committee.

Grand National Party lawmaker Jeong Doo-eon, one of the president’s closest aides, joked, “Who’s the minister-nominee?”

As such, it was difficult to cross check for details. Controversial nominees such as Unification Minister-nominee Nam Joo-hong and Environmental Minister-nominee Park Eun-kyeong were belatedly added to the minister nominee list at the last minute, when negotiations for government restructuring were heating up.

However, the bigger problem is that Cheong Wa Dae did not give up its nominees even when a wave of suspicion and accusation rose over the nominees. The new government thought, “If we don’t get our way this time, we will not be able to lead the administration of state affairs.”

A few days ago, some presidential secretaries tried in vain to convey this message to the president through presidential chief of staff Yu, “Like a famous Chinese saying, you need to give up your closest aides for a bigger objective. We have the general elections coming up. If you don’t change course, we will lose several parliamentary seats in the Seoul metropolitan area.”

President Lee jettisoned his picks only after suffering a delay in parliamentary approval for his Prime Minister-nominee Han Seung-soo, and receiving a proposal from GNP leader Kang Jae-sup.

Some questioned the president’s criteria in selecting the ministers. One presidential official said, “In the corporate world, performance matters more than integrity but in the public sector, pragmatism is not a priority.”

○ ‘To boost people’s livelihood’ is a card for change

Cheong Wa Dae has paid a heavy price with the resignations of these nominees. It has learned the importance of screening and state affairs supplement. Many say the heavy price notwithstanding, the latest development can negatively affect the GNP in the April general elections.

The United Democratic Party (UDP) questioned those minister-nominees and their actions have been viewed by the public as job well done. Previously, the UDP opposed the government restructuring plan and it was expected to block the launch of the new government.

Cheong Wa Dae seems to think that it can control damage by focusing on economic measures for higher living standards and by completing the new Cabinet appointments.

In a similar vein, during a presidential secretary meeting yesterday, President Lee mentioned the price of instant noodle, making it clear that the government would focus on making people’s lives better. “Political reality gives us a hard time but we need parliamentary stability for political stability,” the president said, hinting that the success of his economic reforms relied on his party’s success in the April general elections.

As such, President Lee plans to visit local cities beginning March and carry out deregulations such as lowering corporate taxes and abolishing the ceiling on total equity investment, before the April elections.