[EDITORIALS]Prime Minister GohPresident-elect Roh Moo-hyun made a realistic choice in selecting the former Prime Minister Goh Kun as his first prime minister. He earlier proposed as a principle of national governance that the president is responsible for reform while the prime minister is responsible for stability. Until now, two factors weighed on the incoming Roh administration. The presidential transition committee had presented policies that were largely experimental and unconventional, stirring up uneasiness among the public. The National Assembly is unlikely to go along with many proposed reforms because of the opposition majority.
The prime minister selection, thus, is a way for Mr. Roh to change his image from that of a radical and establish a better foundation for his administration. By selecting Mr. Goh, Mr. Roh signaled that his reforms will not be thrust forward with lightning speed; his reforms, he hinted, will be a gradual progress with public participation. We also see the prime minister selection as an expression of Mr. Roh's intent to put more weight on uniting the public rather than running solo. That is what he told the Grand National Party when he informed its leaders of his choice.
Mr. Goh has served as prime minister, Seoul mayor, minister and lawmaker from the Park Chung Hee administration until Kim Dae-jung's. Some say that long tenure amid drastic political changes means he is not a man of strong convictions. Others say he has a history of shifting controversial decisions to committees to dodge criticism and burnish his image.
Mr. Goh will be responsible for stability, but that does not mean that he can avoid making decisions. In order to change the imperial presidency, the prime minister must voice his convictions, but many wonder about that as well.
At this moment, stabilizing relations with the United States is the most urgent task for the new government. Both Mr. Roh and Mr. Goh are inexperienced in diplomacy and in economic policy. Thus the most important task for the two leaders is to choose the best men available to work in those fields. Building a constructive team with real ability to do good work is Mr. Roh's next task.