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[Editorial] Reshuffle Offers New Opportunity

Posted September. 04, 2009 08:42,   


President Lee Myung-bak yesterday conducted a Cabinet reshuffle, including replacing the prime minister. He has apparently reconstructed the engine of his administration after his 18th month in office and a year after the global economic crisis hit.

The administration had been constantly shaken by dissident groups that reject his 2007 election victory. Despite significant progress in strengthening the Korea-U.S. alliance, the government endured months of protests against its decision to open the domestic market to U.S. beef imports. This year, a landslide defeat in the April by-elections and the suicide of former President Roh Moo-hyun have added to the government’s headaches. Despite the difficulties, Korea is considered to have most successfully overcome the global financial crisis among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The administration has also been partially successful in its quest to recover public confidence lost under the banner of “middle pragmatism.”

Just as Prime Minister-designate Chung Un-chan said yesterday, the situation surrounding Korea is never simple. Tough challenges loom including the unstable macroeconomy, worsening economic conditions for the lower-income class, massive spending on private education, lack of jobs, social friction, regional antagonism, and inter-Korean tension.

In that sense, the presidential office should make all-out efforts to use the latest Cabinet reshuffle as an opportunity to turn major state problems around. In a sense, the administration should consider this opportunity as its second launch and devote itself to action.

Considering his regional background, Chung meets many of the requirements demanded by the administration given his reform of his alma mater and expertise in economy,

While he has been critical of the administration’s economic policies from time to time, he agrees with President Lee on a number of issues including the perception of the economy and pro-business and pro-people inclinations. The president and Chung must achieve harmony in managing state affairs.

It is not right to excessively make a political interpretation of Chung’s designation vis-a-vis his potential presidential bid in the next election. The focus should be on whether he is the right person for the job.

Particularly important is Chung’s own attitude. He should devote himself to the duties of prime minister. If he exposes his ambitions with a view to his political future, he could end up ruining the government.

The situation is never easy for the Korean economy given sluggish corporate investment and consumer spending. While policy considerations for overcoming the immediate economic difficulties facing the public are important, the government should also find and nurture new engines for economic growth. This task is of great significance for the new Cabinet.

The political circle and public should also join hands in help Korea become an advanced country. To recover Korea’s national identity, establish rule of law, and meet the conditions for becoming an advanced state, the government must draw up and implement an elaborate action plan.

Opposition parties should also exercise politics for the people. Big business and the people should also help themselves rather than depending on the government.