Posted October. 30, 2008 09:19,
The presidential office and the ruling Grand National Party rebuffed yesterday growing calls for the dismissal of Strategy and Finance Minister Kang Man-soo, citing an inopportune time for a replacement.
The comments came amid signs that certain party members were joining opposition parties in demanding Kangs resignation.
Ruling party spokesman Cha Myung-jin said, Senior and high-ranking party officials said at a meeting today that the (economic policy) line-up should remain intact until the economic crisis subsides.
Some said that in a situation where deregulation is key to reviving the economy, the demand for the replacement of the head of economic policy is unreasonable.
Though Cha fell short of mentioning the names of party officials who made such comments, he said four to five party leaders oppose Kangs dismissal.
The ruling party apparently feels that repeated calls for Kangs resignation will reduce government leadership in the market and hinder policy implementation.
Party floor leader Hong Joon-pyo told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone, Minister Kang is a symbolic figure of the Lee Myung-bak administrations economic reform drive. Opposition parties are aware that the root cause of the economic crisis was the U.S.-led financial crisis, not policy mistakes. So their demand for Kangs dismissal is nothing less than an attempt to dent the Lee administrations economic policy drive.
President Lees spokesman Lee Dong-kwan also made the presidential offices stance clear at a news briefing, saying, The media can express its opinions (on Kangs resignation) but no (replacement) process is underway.
In a meeting of chief advisers, President Lee stressed accurate and unwavering implementation of government policies. The nation is in an emergency, so both the presidential office and the government must gird up their loins, he said.
He also denied rumors that the government is considering asking for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. I can rule out for sure a financial crisis down the road. But an unfavorable situation where groundless rumors provoke public jitters and undermine investment sentiment in the market should be prevented, he said.
Though the ruling party and the government took an uncompromising stance on Kangs job, the matter will likely flare up again if economic woes aggravate.
Kang was conspicuously absent from an economic emergency meeting presided over by Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and a parliamentary address by main opposition Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun the same day.
Kangs aides said he failed to attend due to accumulated fatigue from frequent overseas trips and back-to-back emergency meetings. He did appear, however, at a macroeconomic policy consultation meeting in the afternoon at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae.