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[Editorial] Sweeping Reform of State Administration

Posted August. 08, 2009 08:04,   


President Lee Myung-bak will announce reform measures Aug. 15 on the occasion of Liberation Day. This should be an opportunity to upgrade the ruling camp’s overall management of state administration. For the incumbent administration, 2009 is the only year in which it can push for its agenda without worrying about elections.

Yet the only things that have surfaced for the past several months are rumors over the reshuffle of the Cabinet and the presidential office, without any specific appointment standards being made public. In his inauguration speech, President Lee warned that Korea will fall behind if it refuses to change at a crossroads determining the country’s fate for the next 60 years or so. He pledged to make his administration a competent one in the interest of national advancement.

He should now ask himself how many of his promises he has kept. If the administration fails to put its campaign pledges into practice, a unified drive for state affairs will be out of the question.

The ruling Grand National Party, which shares the responsibilities of state affairs with the president, is in the midst of a noisy internal feud in failing to accelerate legislation to help the people’s livelihood.

Even if the president calls for “green” economic growth, he can do nothing with a ruling party that cannot revise a simple bill banning electric cars from running on roads. The party has a parliamentary majority but how much longer can it blame every political impasse on its rival, the main opposition Democratic Party?

Nearly 1,000 temporary workers have lost their jobs every day since the National Assembly failed to revise the labor law protecting them. The grace period on several labor issues, including allowing multiple unions at one workplace, will expire at the end of the year. Failure to broker peace between labor and management could lead to a bigger dispute than the protection of temporary workers. Major economic indicators show signs of recovery, but it remains unclear if the economy will take a turn for the worse or experience a double-dip recession. Striking a balance between spending for recovery and worsening the fiscal deficit is difficult. A more elaborate strategy is required to cope with the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula, where a drastic change can occur at any time, in the wake of former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s visit to North Korea.

All of these issues cannot be easily addressed if the administration and the ruling party fail to hold sufficient consultations, make full preparations, and create a public consensus. Who will follow the government if the ruling party cannot stop its internal feud over key positions?