&#91EDITORIALS&#93The invisible prime minister

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[EDITORIALS]The invisible prime minister

Prime Minister Goh Kun assessed the first 100 days of the administration as unsatisfactory. He expressed his determination to perform his role as prime minister henceforth on the basis of this assessment. He can make numerous excuses for why he has folded his hands behind his back for 100 days. But Mr. Goh, as the second executive of the nation, should be held responsible for the unsatisfactory result. He may excuse himself on the grounds that the Blue House has meddled and made decisions in every nook and corner of state affairs, leaving no place for the prime minister whom President Roh Moo-hyun promised more power and responsibility. Mr. Goh learned through newspaper reports of the plan to relocate the press briefing rooms of the central government complex. That’s a good indicator of the reality he deals with. Mr. Goh stood up to address the truckers strike last month, but he was dejected after Blue House officials settled it on their own.
Nevertheless, he cannot be exempted from responsibility. The Constitution grants the prime minister the authority to lead the cabinet. But Mr. Goh failed to exert any mediation in such conflicts as the feud over the national student database. He cannot escape chiding on the grounds that he lacked room. He seems to be the “billboard” prime minister rather than the “responsible” prime minister.
Now Mr. Goh says he will convene policy coordination meetings twice weekly and recommend the dismissal of cabinet members if necessary. That’s a relief. But we wonder how much vigor the prime minister will evince, because President Roh doesn’t seem to be changing his regnant style, as we see in his plan to hold direct dialogue with civil servants. And despite his intention to recommend dismissals, Mr. Goh washed his hands of the controversy over the education minister. Why not recommend dismissal right now, instead of just talking about his prime ministerial role? The opposition party plans to push for the minister’s dismissal sooner or later. If it is initiated by the prime minster, it would help end the standoff between the government and opposition and would redeem the authority of the prime minister.
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