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Swift Reshuffle Needed

Posted July. 30, 2010 11:49,   


Prime Minister Chung Un-chan officially announced his intent to resign Thursday. After taking office in September last year, he unsuccessfully bet his political career on the revision of the Sejong City development plan. It is regrettable that he is quitting just 10 months after inauguration. “Beyond personal regret, I feel a sense of guilt since I’ve failed to prevent a waste of national energy and chaos that will come in the near future,” he said.

For his part, Chung might have felt victimized but cannot avoid responsibility as the prime minister who pursed the revision as his top agenda. In addition, he would have felt burdened since the comprehensive reform of the ruling camp has become the top priority after the ruling party’s crushing defeat in the June 2 local elections. Chung had to resign to create the proper condition for President Lee Myung-bak’s fresh start in the second half of his administration.

The replacement of the prime minister is a fait accompli, so a wide-ranging Cabinet reshuffle is likely. Public officials are said to have long stopped working to closely watch the upcoming shake-up after rumors of a Cabinet reshuffle began circulating. Against this backdrop, a delay in the reshuffle will hinder smooth operation of state affairs and make the people fatigued over the matter. The latter half of the administration’s term is a time to solidify the foundation for the country’s advancement in every societal sector. Given that the incumbent government has little time to work under stable conditions, a delay of one or two months is also a huge waste.

Who the next prime minister will be depends on President Lee’s administrative direction for the latter half of his term. He should make a wise choice between a pragmatist effective in dealing with state affairs, including the economy, and a politician who can bring a generational shift and help regain power. In any case, the new prime minister should have a good understanding of state affairs and demonstrate a leadership of coordination and integration.

The prime minster also should give the people hope as a national leader. In addition, he or she must be capable of communicating not only with the ruling party but also with the opposition and people from all walks of life. The people do not want a prime minister of repute who has just a decent career but is incompetent in an attempt to avoid criticism. If Cabinet members along with the prime minister are replaced with truly competent figures, the administration will gain momentum. Those who think that their duty is to simply give the president pleasure should not be candidates for the Cabinet.

A change in President Lee’s administrative style is also needed. Instead of seeking to control all state affairs, he needs to share the burden and responsibility with the prime minister and other Cabinet members by delegating power to them. This will allow the formulation of policies befitting conditions on the ground and responsible administration of state affairs.