[EDITORIALS]Goh needs more musclePresident Roh Moo-hyun has ordered his senior staff to develop a plan to strengthen the role of the prime minister. Mr. Roh also pledged that he would focus on the national agenda while the prime minister would run the government. The decision to divide the government workload between the president and the prime minister is belated but welcome. The president and the prime minister should build new roles to govern the nation in this new era. That will redeem Mr. Roh’s promise of a “responsible prime minister” made before the new administration began.
Expectations were high about the experience Prime Minister Goh Kun brought to the Roh administration. When conflict with the United States peaked because of the North Korean nuclear issues and the U.S. forces’ role on the peninsula, Mr. Goh devised three principles regarding the U.S. forces, which did contribute to easing tension between South Korea and the United States and settled much of Koreans’ uneasiness.
But we have not seen that responsible prime minister who oversees the administration and leads national governance since then. The president is involved in every detail of national governance; Mr. Roh even discussed an appointment of a public company with its labor union. Concern grew that Mr. Goh would be no more than the ceremonial prime minister that we had seen in past administrations. Mr. Goh wanted to go slow on intra-group financial investigations, but the next day the Fair Trade Commission head said there would be no delay. Mr. Goh learned of the Government Information Agency’s plan to relocate a briefing room for the press corps after reading about it in the newspapers. That inspired little confidence in his power.
Immediately after his inauguration, Mr. Roh began to dig into the details of the government’s running and stirred some criticism. He has responded to that criticism by again stressing the need for a strong prime minister. Now that proposal must be put into action. This Blue House is the largest ever, and its power is immense. That has to change.