Go to contents

Close your notebook and open your ears

Posted March. 25, 2013 05:26,   


One month has passed since President Park Geun-hye took office, but the people’s impression of her administration is negative rather than positive. This is mainly because of the problems that spring up day after day over Cabinet appointments and prolonged bipartisan confrontation over the government reshuffle plan. According to a Gallup Korea survey conducted March 18-21, her approval rate fell to 44 percent from 51.6 percent at the time of the presidential election last year. The president`s performance over her first month in office can be likened to a beat-up car that is started but left idling.

Needless to say, President Park must be the first to assume responsibility for the situation. Her Cabinet appointments have obviously fallen flat on her face after five nominees she selected by herself failed to take office either by dropping out of the running or failing to pass parliamentary confirmation hearings. The flops include Kim Yong-joon (prime minister-nominee), Kim Jeong-hoon (future creation and science minister-nominee), Hwang Chul-joo (Small and Medium Business Administration chief-nominee), Kim Hak-ui (vice justice minister) and Kim Byung-kwan (defense minister-nominee). Except for Kim Jeong-hoon, all of the other nominees had insufficient background checks done on them.

The embarrassing situation shows that the Human Resources Committee and the senior civil affairs team’s verification system of the presidential office needs repair work. Personnel decisions require checks and balances. To ensure that people from different backgrounds can pass confirmation hearings, President Park should stop nominating people by solely depending on her “notebook,” because nobody will object to a president`s choice. If such problems continue, nominees will keep failing to get appointed and eventually erode the people’s trust in the government.

Not only opposition parties but also the president is responsible for the delay in the passing of the government reshuffle plan. Though the National Assembly Advancement Act makes it difficult for the ruling party to manipulate parliament, the president tried to push her original plan through despite not earning enough support from the opposition. Her promise to respect parliament might have been just lip service. The president’s pledges include the setup of a joint conference of the country`s leaders including opposition members, an Equal Opportunities Commission, non-partisan personnel appointments, guaranteed tenure for the National Police Agency commissioner, and a ban on the transfer of public prosecutors to the presidential office. This has given Koreans the impression that the president is focusing on promises beneficial to her while discarding all others.

Many problems of the new administration have been uncovered. President Park must now remember the resolution she made when she was sworn in. The administration must function normally to relieve public anxiety over national security and push forward with her campaign promises to improve social welfare and create jobs. President Park should make new resolutions from today through the mistakes and failures made over the past one month.