[EDITORIALS]More egg in the faceDuring his visit to the United States, President Roh Moo-hyun telephoned his secretaries at the Blue House, but none of them was available. Customarily, government offices work under emergency plans when the president is on an overseas trip. The presidential secretariat, in particular, traditionally works in an emergency mode, maintaining close communications so there will be no disruption of the administration while the president is out of the country.
Notwithstanding the protocol, none of the Blue House offices picked up the phone. This is not worrisome, it is deplorable. This is not the mistake of night duty officers. Discipline of the whole secretariat, including senior secretaries who failed to check with their subordinates before the president called, was slack.
The new government’s loose work environment is found elsewhere, too. Presidential advisers who accompanied the president were completely unaware of the press conference at the Rose Garden until American broadcasters started live relay of the event. Apparently, there was an abrupt change of schedule, and some of the American media were informed to prepare for the coverage. Some Korean press corps members who saw American reporters preparing for television relay asked Roh advisers to confirm the schedule, but their answer was negative. As a result, Korean broadcasters had to pick up footage relayed by the American networks.
When the president asked his cabinet ministers about the transport crisis created by striking truck drivers, they were not ready to explain the situation. On Sunday the president was scheduled to appear at an outdoor ceremony before a large crowd, including student protesters, but the police and presidential security failed to foresee Hanchongryun’s plan to bar the president from the event. The president had to enter and leave by a rear gate.
What is the reason for the foul-ups? The Roh government is ignoring the system established by previous governments. Its division into foe and friend tends to result in favoritism for the president’s close aides.
Discipline should be imposed on the presidential entourage first.