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[Editorial] Is the Government Doing Its Job?

Posted March. 20, 2009 09:25,   


Strategy and Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun said Wednesday, “Now is the time to reflect on whether all legislators, government officials, companies, labor and financial institutions are doing their best for the country’s future.” “Everyone in the administrative branch will ask if it’s doing its best and if it’s rising to the challenge of carrying out reform agenda,” he said. “Those in the legislative branch must ask themselves whether they’re doing their part in legislating laws in the interest of our nation and for our future, and labor must ask itself whether it’s doing its part in difficult times like this.”

Yoon’s comments imply that each sector is not doing its best to overcome the economic crisis. Lee Soo-young, the chairman of the Korean Employers Federation, said earlier this month, “Though this global economic crisis is much more serious than the Asian financial crisis (in 1998), people seem to feel less of a sense of urgency, and the whole country appears too loose.”

The main opposition Democratic Party blasted Yoon, saying, “Mind your own business.” The Korean people might have the right to blame him, but the party sure does not. It has often blocked to pass bills on the people’s livelihood by going beyond constructive criticism, which is the opposition’s role. In Korean politics, it is hard for a minister to condemn the National Assembly. Many people agree with Yoon, who dared to say such words despite the expected criticism.

Instead of blaming politicians’ negligence altogether, the government also must explain in detail how political parties are burdening both the economy and the people’s livelihood due to delayed legislation and law revision, and how to persuade politicians and the people. It should not just criticize labor and companies. Given the gravity of the crisis, if it points out each economic player’s problems, it can gain public support and improve conditions as well.

Above all, government officials must seriously reflect on themselves and confess what they have done. When protesters took to the streets with candles against U.S. beef imports last year, certain ministries and their officials remained idle. Indulged in bureaucracy, other ministries delayed sending bills needed for economic recovery to the National Assembly until the end of the year. Regulation reforms that can be conducted by the administrative branch have barely been carried out. So does the government really serve the people?