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Sweeping Cabinet Reshuffle Possible by Year’s End

Posted October. 27, 2008 09:10,   


The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae is reportedly mulling a reshuffle of the Cabinet and presidential secretariat at year’s end to emphasize “action” as the administration’s keyword for next year.

A top member of the ruling Grand National Party told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone yesterday, “If this year was a preparatory and trial period for the Lee Myung-bak administration, next year must be all about putting its policies into practice.”

“Accordingly, a Cabinet reshuffle is possible at the end of the year.”

A Cheong Wa Dae official also said, “Internally, we expect the Lee administration to fully bloom by 2010, which means next year is critical for making a leap forward. To this end, the administration is considering a Cabinet reshuffle.”

Another ruling party official said, “The administration needs loyal figures with the power to take the initiative and make a breakthrough to become an action-driven government. Those that best understand President Lee’s leadership philosophy should be by his side for the administration to reap results with prompt policy responses next year.”

Politicians are keeping a close watch on the possible return of those who contributed to Lee’s victory in the presidential election last year, since most of them have what it takes to be “the president’s men” according to many in the ruling party.

Attention is on former lawmaker Lee Jae-oh, who is now teaching modern Korean politics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and ruling party member Chung Doo-un, who needs a few more steps to reach the height of his political career.

Other candidates who could join the Cabinet are former Presidential Chief of Staff Yu Woo-ik; former senior presidential secretary for social affairs Kwak Seung-jun; former presidential secretary for planning and coordination Park Young-joon; former ruling party secretary-general Lee Bang-ho; and former lawmaker Chung Jong-bok.

The Lee administration seems intent on making 2009, which is considered a pivotal period for Korea, its most successful year.

First, next year will determine if the economy picks up or falls into a long-term recession.

In addition, most of the administration’s reforms are scheduled to take effect next year, including assistance to state-owned enterprises, deregulation and separation of banking and commerce.

The reshaping of the global economic order will also be in full swing and major political issues such as reform of the Korean National Assembly will be completed next year.

A leading pro-President Lee politician said, “How the administration fares next year will affect the 2010 local elections, the results of which will have great influence on the administration in the latter half of its term. Therefore a successful 2009 will be crucial in gathering momentum for the administration’s first half.”

Some said the ruling party must handle tension among pro-Lee politicians before the end of the year if a pro-government Cabinet is to be formed.

In this context, former presidential secretary Kwak Seung-jun has tried to mend ties between lawmakers Lee Sang-deuk and Chung. Certain newly elected lawmakers who used to belong to the Anguk Forum, which served as the initial campaign base for Lee Myung-bak in the presidential election, have stepped up to consolidate power among pro-President Lee lawmakers.