[EDITORIALS]Don't misshuffle cabinet

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[EDITORIALS]Don't misshuffle cabinet

News that President Kim Dae-jung is ready to initiate a much-awaited cabinet reshuffle this week is no news. The issue of "personnel reform" was a point of contention far too long this past year to attract any further attention from the public. There are even cynical snorts that the cabinet reshuffle is "unexpected." The public, not surprisingly, is extremely tired of discoveries of government corruption popping up everyday, everywhere. Cabinet reform is seen by some as a feeble attempt to divert the people's attention from the huge corruption scandal involving a treasure-hunt escapade.

For the cabinet reshuffle to have the maximum impact, it should be dealt with completely separate from the treasure-hunt scandal. The bizarre chain of corruption linking a stock-rigging scam by a businessman to a treasure-hunt scheme involving a nephew of the president's wife has even been linked to a top Blue House official in the latest turn of events. One is almost afraid to ask where the end of the chain might lead. The people want to know if President Kim has what it takes to hunt out the nasty truths involving his wife's nephew (who allegedly handled the secret election funds for the president during his election campaign), the Blue House, the National Intelligence Service, the navy, and the maritime police in the wild-goose chase for sunken treasure. The president should also take moral responsibility for the behavior of a relative of his wife and conduct an internal investigation of the Blue House before the independent counsel does.

This cabinet reshuffle is likely to be the last of President Kim's administration. A message of self-examination, expressing the will to reform, should be conveyed by making sure "old faces" do not fill the cabinet posts again. Too many "birds of a feather" based on regionalism and school ties have spoiled national affairs. Expertise and experience should be the basis of deciding the new appointments. Prime Minister Lee Han-dong, with his fingers deep in political pies, definitely has got to go.

President Kim should appoint a new prime minister who can guarantee neutrality in this year's presidential and local elections. Overall reform of the Blue House structure should also be carried out. But above all, remember, a cabinet reshuffle is one thing, investigations into scandals are another.
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