[EDITORIALS]Roh panel a different sortThe transition team of the President-elect Roh Moo-hyun is exceptional. Out of the seven team leaders, six are university professors and five of them teach at universities in the provinces. This makes the selection seem bold. They are so-called "Roh Moo-hyun people" in the academic circles. References to their fields of expertise and activities often include phrases such as "income redistribution," "urban poor," "labor union" and "association for democratization." These phrases represent the reformist tendency of the transition committee members.
It is refreshing that there are no lawmakers from the ruling Millennium Democratic Party on the committee. If politicians lead the committee, more emphasis will be given to power than to policy matters, and weighing each person's contribution during the campaign and making the appropriate award would overwhelm their agenda. There would be accusations and discord, with one side calling the other strongmen or an occupying force. Excluding politicians from the committee is an expression that such undesirable activities of the past should be avoided. In that sense, the selection can be interpreted as an outcome of the effort to differentiate "Mr. Roh's reform" from those of previous governments and to show its vitality.
Also excluded from the committee are high-ranking public officials, despite the fact that the committee will focus on working-level policy matters. This can be interpreted as an expression of distrust for public servants, who are often criticized for being easygoing and opposed to structural reform. Also, it might reflect Mr. Roh's will to re-evaluate the overall function of government.
Although they have been a part of Mr. Roh's camp for some time, there is a big gap between academic theory and reality. Reform is more difficult now than during the administration of President Kim Young-sam, when there was a strong public consensus for reform, and the time of President Kim Dae-jung, when people were prepared to suffer through the financial crisis. Due to misdeeds during the last 10 years, public opinion is against reform. The panel should pay heed to the public, or it will be unable to find effective policy tools to carry out Mr. Roh's ideals.