[EDITORIALS]Reform is needed nowLee Kwang-jae, the Blue House secretary for information and policy monitoring, handed in his resignation Sunday, and it will most likely be accepted. Yet Mr. Lee himself is reportedly remonstrating against his resignation, and complains of being mistreated. We do not know why Mr. Lee resigned. It could be because of the rumors of his link to the recent corruption scandals, or because of the accusation of a legislator of the newly-formed party that he had abused his authority.
The lawmaker who demanded Mr. Lee’s ouster claimed that he had been “monopolizing information and power” within the Blue House. If the Blue House is in a situation where a single individual could monopolize information and power, Mr. Lee’s resignation alone would not be enough. Such a situation means there are comprehensive problems.
If so, then all the responsibility falls on President Roh Moo-hyun himself. Mr. Roh distorted the public office system by lending too much power to those whose only common, proven virtue was to have stood by his side for 15 years. The mess that the Blue House is in is the result of arbitrary selection of individuals, by virtue of subscribing to the president’s “code,” without regard to their moral disposition or capabilities. Mr. Lee’s resignation is a sign that the entire system of the central authority must be set straight.
President Roh said Sunday that any talk of personnel change is inadequate because he has already promised a cabinet reshuffle and Blue House reforms, should his proposed vote of confidence take place. But if there is a problem, it should be fixed right away and not neglected until the vote, particularly since it now looks uncertain whether there will be a vote or not. To do otherwise would be negligent. It is even doubtful whether the Blue House staff and ministers would feel disposed to attend to their jobs when the president has more or less made it clear that all must go.
There are even concerns that the president will try to reinforce his “code-based” personnel after the vote. If the president’s promise of personnel reform is not just a show, then he should immediately start making much-needed replacements.