[INSIGHT]Don't make a mess at the exit

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[INSIGHT]Don't make a mess at the exit

Public facilities should be left neat for the next person. A well-mannered person would not litter or leave a mess behind when using public facilities.

The same should go for public authority. It is only right that outgoing administration should refrain from leaving any burdens for the next administration or from hogging decisions that the next administration should make.

However, looking at the recent manner of our administration, it seems it has no sense of cleaning up after itself or any consideration for the next government. Sometimes it even feels like authority has got up and left. Even now, government agencies are refusing to submit data for the National Assembly's inspection on public spending. Such behavior could hardly be called "cleaning up after oneself."

We had a view of this when President Kim Dae-jung appointed three prime minister nominees despite the controversy over the constitutionality of the process. Now, we are sure of the indifferent recklessness of the administration at the end of its term with the refusal to oblige the National Assembly's request for information for parliamentary inspection. If the inspection of the public data cannot take place during this administration, the next administration would have to get it done. Already, the present administration has shackled the next administration.

We also feel the absence of any real sense of duty on the government's part for areas hit hard by Typhoon Rusa. In general, the government failed to show urgency, concentration and organization of relief efforts.

On real estate, it is ridiculous that the government could not even tell how effective its relief measures were because the office in charge had decided to raise the property taxes without consulting with other concerned offices. Such a thing could never have happened if the administration had been paying attention to what was going on.

The five-day workweek or the drafting of laws allowing civil servants to form unions are not issues that can be decided and then remanded whenever the administration changes. Therefore, even if they were campaign promises, they should be decided on cautiously with plenty of time and based on a consensus. These are not decisions to be hurriedly made at the end of a term.

There are other issues that will take at least five to 10 years to resolve, long-term or big-scale projects that will be started two or three years down the road that should not be decided on at the end of an administration's term. Another issue that is best left for the next administration is personnel. There should be no last-minute changes in appointments. Unfortunately, such personally motivated personnel transfers happen, reminding one of the last days of former President Chun Doo Hwan, when almost all the major posts in the military were changed.

The next administration will inevitably have to appoint new people to set right such inappropriate personnel appointments and promotions. Thus, the outgoing administration would be creating another useless task for the next administration.

In short, an administration at the end of its term needs to know what it should handle and what should be handled by the incoming administration. To give the appropriate consideration to what belongs to the next administration, an outgoing government must give up its ambitions for achievements. "I not only introduced the five-day workweek, I also appointed the first woman prime minister in history." Pursuing such ambitions at the end of a term more likely than not leads to failure. Those tasks that require much time should be handed over to the next administration.

Boosting the morale of the government is more important than achievements at the end of a term. It may be that such absence of real authority is inevitable at the end of the day, but the government should not willingly let itself fall into such a state. There seems to be some sort of attempt to boost morale on the part of public officials, but if the president or other high-ranking officials are involved in controversies over the constitution, how can lower-ranking officials maintain public order? More important than the morale of lower-ranking officials is the morale of the agencies themselves and the law-abiding attitude of those in high-ranking positions. The government is only making itself a victim if it loses the neutrality that is strictly required of it for the presidential election. It would cause unnecessary difficulties in the change of power.

The biggest achievement of this administration would be to look around for any loose ends that should be tied to ensure a "peaceful" five months in office before the next administration steps in.


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The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Song Chin-hyok

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