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When will new Chief of Staff be appointed?

Posted February. 07, 2015 07:23,   


There have been so many issues and scandals around the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. Last month, assistant secretary Eum Jong-hwan resigned from the office for causing a stir by making inappropriate remarks while drinking with other politicians. Another presidential secretary resigned after internal investigation found the official joined a golf trip paid by a private company executive. This is not a matter to be taken lightly since the official who was alleged to receive the treat was the assistant secretary at the Civil Affairs Office, which is in charge of civil service discipline and audit.

Compared to the previous administrations, the President Park Geun-hye administration has been under the public criticism more often. In the beginning of the administration, presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung’s sexual assault allegation made the administration an object of criticism from the media. Afterwards, a series of rule-breaking and scandals by Cheong Wa Dae officials have drawn the public’s attention including presidential secretaries’ receiving treats and bribes, civil service secretary’s intervention in local elections, and a presidential assistant secretary’s illegal access to the personal information of former Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook in an attempt to investigate Chae’s fathering in an extramarital affair.

At the peak of such rule-breaking series was the "memogate scandal" involving leaked presidential documents alleging that a former presidential aide Jeong Yun-hoe and other presidential key aides attempted to exert undue influence in state affairs. Prosecutors’ investigation concluded that former presidential secretary Cho Eung-cheon, who worked at the Civil Affairs Office, and senior police official Park Kwan-cheon fabricated the presidential documents and leakage. However, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has shown a severe incapability and lack of motivation. In addition, there was a case of insubordination where senior presidential secretary for civil affairs refused to an order from Chief of Staff to attend the National Assembly session.

Whenever a corruption scandal or wrongdoing of the presidential officials has come to light, the presidential office has sent the dispatched personnel back to the original ministries or received resignation from those who were not from the government ministries, rather than giving strict punishment. The presidential office’s recognition on "severe disciplinary action" is to send the officials back to the original ministries where they were from or to receive resignation. The presidential office even defined the memoranda scandal as a "personal aberration" of two presidential officials. Such wrong view and lax punishment have grown insensitivity of the presidential officials against corruptions and rule-breakings.

As the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae is at the center of power to support the president, the presidential officials must have higher integrity and stronger sense of responsibility than others. If the presidential office is not in discipline and order, how could the administration demand strong disciplines to other public officials? To break chains of corruption across the public offices, the presidential office must show example of zero tolerance against corruption and wrongdoings first. Although it is not clear when a new Chief of Staff will be appointed after current Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon resigns, the presidential office should establish discipline by reshuffling.