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Personnel Reshuffle

Posted June. 11, 2010 11:59,   


A senior religious figure said, “If President Lee Myung-bak doesn’t have the same degree of courage as President Rhee Syng-man had when Rhee released anti-communist POWs in protest of the U.S. attempt to reach a truce, the administration is doomed.” On the results of last week’s local elections, he said, “Those (in the Lee administration) are engaged in a power struggle. Opportunists are trying to get off the hook whenever problems arise,” adding, “If President Lee doesn’t change completely, the situation will not get better.”

A former presidential chief of staff and Cabinet minister said, “Despite the election defeat, the government is apparently unaware of why it lost.” Though 11 days have passed since the nation released an interim report card for the Lee administration, the president has not presented solutions to win the hearts and minds of the public. On the request for personnel and administration reshuffles in the ruling Grand National Party, President Lee has a “wait-and-see” attitude. His aides might have told him that now is not the time for the president to take the lead in resolving the situation since the party’s national convention and by-elections are coming up. This gives the impression, however, that the government is looking the other way in the face of disaster.

Two months or so are left before the mid-point of President Lee’s term. His first comment after the election defeat was, “I’ll commit myself to economic revitalization.” Though saying he will reflect on the election results, no sense of urgency was felt. To add momentum to efforts to revitalize the economy and strengthen national security, strong leadership that can unite and channel the people’s energy is required. President Lee should exhibit such leadership and lead the way in sorting out the situation immediately.

First-time lawmakers in the ruling party have urged fellow lawmakers to sign a petition requesting the government to reshuffle the presidential office, improve the administrative system, establish an equal relationship between the ruling party and the presidential office, and reflect the people’s opinions on the revised plan for Sejong City`s development and the four-river restoration project. Park Jie-won, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party said, “The longer a personnel shake-up is delayed, the bigger adverse effects and confusion will grow,” adding, “Like a comment the president often makes, the personnel shake-up should be carried out like a flash of lightning.”

The direction President Lee should take is clear: he must urgently tackle the lack of communication that emerged in the process of pursuing the Sejong City plan and the river project and improve a personnel management practice in which figures close to him are selected instead of the most qualified. Reshuffles of the Cabinet and the ruling party as well as the presidential office should be carried out, but that of the presidential staff should come first. If the government is being swayed by forces who oppose the reshuffle, this will undermine not only the president but also the country.