[EDITORIALS]Hands off coercive toolsPresident Roh Moo-hyun has repeatedly emphasized the taming of power-wielding government agencies as an important reform. Since the founding of the nation, government agencies like the prosecutors, police, intelligence service and tax services have all been lackeys to those in power, distorting our society. Even if he only righted this single wrong, President Roh would have contributed greatly to the progress of our society.
We applaud, therefore, the president’s declaration that the “government of public participation” will not rely on these power organs anymore to maintain its control.
No government in the past has ever forgotten to declare that it would uphold the independence of these bodies, but presidents have often used these groups for their own arbitrary exercise of power.
In order for the political neutrality and independence of these agencies to be protected in the new government, those in power will need a firm will and an implementation plan to back it up. The president will need all his willpower to resist using these agencies as his own private power tools and break the agencies free from the force of their old habits.
The first step the president and his staff will need to take is to return the authority of making appointments back to the respective agencies. As the president himself has pointed out, where do those who try to curry favor with the authorities come from? Because political strongmen hold the power to appoint people to posts, quick-witted agencies try to outdo one another in being the mouthpieces for powerful politicians. Blueprints for reform guaranteeing the fairness of personnel appointments should be tailored according to the characteristics of each agency. Then the ground will be set for the agencies to recover their independence.
The government agencies should also show a resolute attitude toward living up to the change of times. The agencies should renovate themselves to become the “people-serving agencies” that President Roh wants and cast off such derogatory adjectives as “handmaids to power” and “power tools.” The wisdom and efforts of the agencies themselves is needed to realize the president’s promise not to “borrow” these agencies for his gain.