[NOTEBOOK]Jumping gun on Jin candidacy

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[NOTEBOOK]Jumping gun on Jin candidacy

These days people are curious about the course of action Deputy Prime Minister Jin Nyum might take. Some people in the Millennium Democratic Party are openly discussing the possibilities of making Mr. Jin the party's candidate for governor of Gyeonggi province. The deputy prime minister himself has made this clear: He has no intention of running for governor. With rumors spreading, Mr. Jin distributed a press statement stating his position last Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the Millennium Democratic Party is still trying to lure the minister into the race, putting Mr. Jin in an awkward position. It is desirable that people from various fields take part in politics with their expert knowledge and experience, including those from the business world, and serve to promote public interest.

But this time the activity and the way things appear make this case different. Obviously, the Millennium Democratic Party decided that they need someone with political weight who can compete against Sohn Hak-kyu, who is the Grand National Party's candidate and heavily favored to win. It is said that the result of the opinion poll by the Millennium Democratic Party shows Mr. Jin having a competitive edge over the other candidates.

I doubt the party considered the effect on the economy of the move when it picked Mr. Jin as its candidate. To run in the election, Mr. Jin would have to quit his post, and if he did, a cabinet reshuffle would be unavoidable. If that happens, the Korean economy would have to find a new captain three months after the last cabinet reshuffle. Needless to say the overall economic policy would be thrown off course.

Our economy seems to be recovering. But a closer look shows a couple of factors that make the picture not very rosy. Domestic consumption is feared to be overheating, house prices are skyrocketing, people are concerned about higher prices, and the number of delinquent consumer loans is jumping. Exports are weak and investments are on the low side, with numerous issues concerning the privatization of government enterprises lurking around the corner.

Therefore, a plan has to be devised that stimulates exports but does not spur an overheating of the domestic economy -- a truly delicate challenge. To achieve this task the continuity of policies is a must. In addition, there is no reason why the current economic team should be altered. They are viewed as probably the best team to conclude the economic policies of the current administration. Another problem is that politics takes its own course without seeking approval. If someone wants to engage in politics, he or she should do it out of his or her own will. The bigger problem is that in every election, government officials are lured into politics under the pretext that a weak or strategic district has to be tackled. The best example of this is the 16th Assembly election in which Kang Bong-kyun, former minister of finance and economy, and Hong Jae-hyung, the former deputy prime minister for finance and economy, were candidates. There is great risk involved when one tries to enter the political arena. Losing in an election has no other meaning than the word lose itself. Even though one is elected for the first time, there is little chance that person can wield as much influence as a person whose lifetime job is being a politician. If this practice continues, more people will try to use their background as a public servant as some sort of stepping-stone to the world of politics. And the National Assembly seats and various local government posts could become second jobs best suited for securing a good life when one grows old.

In Mr. Jin's case, he does not even have a connection to the Gyeonggi area. Since he worked for a long time at the Economy and Finance Ministry which is in Gwacheon, one could say he is a Gyeonggi person, but even that is stretching it since he is a native of North Jeolla province.

One good thing is that the Blue House has made no comments regarding Mr. Jin's situation. Even if he decides to run in the election, it must be preceded by a cabinet reshuffle.

I sincerely want to have faith in our government, which has announced that it will stay out of politics. Considering the situation from a different angle, the best thing to do is just to leave the minister alone.


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The writer is the business news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Min Byong-kwan

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