Go to contents

Reject the hastily made gov`t reshuffle plan

Posted February. 01, 2013 04:16,   


President-elect Park Geun-hye’s proposal for government reorganization was submitted to the National Assembly on Wednesday. Suggesting the addition of ministries and other organizations under them, the proposal will be reviewed in an extraordinary parliamentary session that starts Monday and reflects the next president’s blueprint for running the government and leading the nation over the next five years.

The proposal, however, was hastily devised by certain members of her transition team in line with her intentions. Due to fears that details might be leaked to the outside, the process was also marked by extreme confidentiality and no active debates within the committee. The proposal`s submission even led to vocal opposition from members of the ruling Saenuri Party, not to mention opposition lawmakers. It is hard to understand why the transition team did not even consult with the ruling party about the government reorganization plan at least once. As nine Saenuri lawmakers refused to sign the bill, the president-elect cannot be optimistic of parliamentary approval without persuading opposition lawmakers.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry strongly resents the proposed transfer of trade-related offices to the forthcoming Commerce, Industry, Trade and Energy Ministry. In a luncheon meeting with ruling party lawmakers from Gangwon Province Wednesday, President-elect Park said she arrived at her conclusion because of what she heard and felt while she served as a member of the National Assembly’s foreign affairs, trade and unification committee, asking for their support. The Foreign Ministry opposes the plan, claiming that recent trends in international trade negotiations involves tariffs and service industries and that the manufacturing-minded Commerce Ministry would likely struggle to effectively cope with the trends. The Knowledge Economy Ministry, which will become the Commerce Ministry, claims that industry experts should be part of trade negotiations to better examine the impact of trade deals on domestic industries and enhance the nation’s trade capabilities. Below the surface, however, the arguments look more like an inter-ministerial turf war. Ministries set for downsizing or losing power are making desperate efforts to lobby for themselves. Deciding which ministry should be in charge of trade should not be affected by selfish interests.

Nuclear experts have criticized the proposed transfer of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission to the Future, Creation and Science Ministry, saying a player should not be a referee at the same time. The International Atomic Energy Agency recommends that the promotion and regulation of nuclear energy should be separated for checks and balances. The proposal to put the Future Ministry in charge of seeking industry-academic cooperation, which has been the job of the Education, Science and Technology Ministry, will likely subject universities to double regulation by the education and future ministries. President-elect Park’s desire to elevate the status of the Presidential Security Service as a minister-level organization despite her promise to downsize the presidential office should also be re-examined, though this plan is not subject to parliamentary review.

The National Assembly will have a tight schedule to handle the government`s reorganization proposal before the launch of the new administration on Feb. 25. But parliament should not railroad the bill without holding sufficient discussions. The president-elect told the ruling party, “Since I made the campaign promises, you just put them into practice.” The National Assembly’s authority should also be respected. Parliament must also hold in-depth discussions on what is truly in the national interest and effective.