Go to contents

Political Symbiosis

Posted February. 29, 2008 03:13,   


President Lee Myung-bak has decided to “lease” three outgoing ministers in order to hold the new administration’s first Cabinet meeting on March 3. The move came after three minister nominees stepped down over the mounting suspicions on their alleged real estate speculation and other unethical conducts. The law requires a minimum of 15 Cabinet members to hold a Cabinet meeting.

Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan told the press on Thursday that Home Affairs Minister Park Myung-jae, Health and Welfare Minister Byun Jae-jin and Environment Minister Lee Gyu-yong have agreed to attend the upcoming Cabinet meeting on March 3 to prevent a power vacuum. The three outgoing ministers will maintain their Cabinet member status for the sake of the meeting, despite that fact that they have practically completed their terms.

Political analysts believe that was an inevitable choice for the new administration, considering that the confirmation hearings of the replacements for the three resigning minister designates cannot be wrapped up by March 2, even if the National Assembly approves the appointment of Prime Minister-nominee Han Seung-soo on Feb. 29. The three replacements - minister nominees for Unification and Environment as well as Gender Equality Minister-nominee Byun Do-yoon - will face confirmation hearings at a later date.

The three “leased Cabinet members,” excluding Environment Minister Lee, have served ministries different from the ones that the resigning minister nominees were named for. However, they will represent a certain ministry at the Cabinet meeting as they will be attending the meeting as ministers without portfolio.

In other words, a symbiosis between the outgoing and incoming ministers will be unavoidable due to the delayed negotiations on the government reorganization plans and delayed vote on the appointment of the prime minister.

“Incumbent Prime Minister Han Duck-soo held a meeting with Cabinet members in an attempt to find a way to hold a Cabinet meeting. As a result, three ministers volunteered to attend the Cabinet meeting on March 3,” presidential spokesman Lee said. “We’d like to show our gratitude to Park and other ministers, who will make efforts to prevent a power vacuum.”

The three ministers have been serving as government official for a long time after passing the Higher Civil Service Examination. Cheong Wa Dae officials say that the selection of the three ministers was approved without difficulty because they are relatively free from former President Roh Moo-hyun’s liberal stance.