&#91EDITORIALS&#93Think again, Mr. President

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Think again, Mr. President

President Roh Moo-hyun is expected to go ahead and appoint Ko Young-koo as director of the National Intelligence Service, even though the National Assembly has found him an inappropriate choice. Mr. Roh risks inviting protest and repercussions from his unjustifiable infringement of the spirit of the parliamentary hearing. The outcome may be mounting loss against minimal gain.
Mr. Roh has several times said he would respect the opinion of the National Assembly. He will thus be eating his words if he ignores its assessment of the appointment of Mr. Ko, and he will set a negative precedent of treating the hearings as a mere formality. He would also contradict his previous decisions that respected the Assembly above his personal and party preferences.
If the president must stand by Mr. Ko, he should persuasively state his reasons. The explanation from the Blue House is that Mr. Roh wants a director who can revamp the agency rather than someone with expertise in intelligence gathering. But is Mr. Ko the only person in the nation capable of reforming the agency? Surely there is a pool of other talented figures the president could choose from.
If Mr. Roh has sound reasons, why wasn’t he able to persuade the Assembly’s Intelli-gence Committee ― in particular, its Millennium Democrats. Does he believe he can win public acceptance for his choice when he has failed to win over his own party members? The president met face-to-face with the Korea Broadcasting System’s labor union to push his choice for president of the public network. Has he taken that course this time and met with the Millennium Democrats but failed to make them embrace Mr. Ko? If so, the director-designate may have flaws that need further consideration. But the Blue House simply aims barbs such as “Cold War yardstick” at the committee.
We hope Mr. Roh thinks of the country as a whole in making his ultimate decision. We hope he does not view the situation as one in which he must save face. We hope he thinks seriously about the best way to build a firm foundation for national security. If he does, he should appoint someone else.
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