[EDITORIALS]Questionable cabinet officials

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[EDITORIALS]Questionable cabinet officials

President Roh Moo-hyun shuffled six cabinet officials yesterday, including the education and human resources minister. With the new appointments, the cabinet that will lead the government in the third year of President Roh’s term has been formed. The senior presidential secretary for personnel affairs remarked that the nation has sailed through stormy seas over the past two years. He explained that the reshuffle was designed “to start the new year with a fresh, new mind.”
Frankly, however, we are more worried than expectant when we look at the new members.
Lee Ki-jun, newly appointed deputy prime minister and minister of education and human resources, caused many problems when he was Seoul National University’s president. They included: illegally assuming the job of an outside director of a private firm; excessive spending of an expediency fund; failure to report expenditures on research; and the draft-dodging scandal involving his son. In protest at his misconduct, students occupied his office, and faculty members made him step down before his term expired. True, he registered some achievements ― like the introduction of an evaluation system for professors But being education minister requires a higher ethical standard than other public posts.
In the case of other ministers too, it is difficult to say that the right people are in the right posts. It is questionable whether one who has worked in the field of commerce and industry can manage government administration, even if his reform and planning ability is highly regarded.
It is also difficult to understand the thinking behind someone who worked at Busan city office for a long period being given the maritime affairs portfolio. We get the impression that the post was given as a reward for running in the election as Uri Party’s candidate for Busan mayor.
And we are suspicious as to whether the appointment of a former farmers’ activist to head the Agriculture Ministry and entrust him with the aftermath of the WTO negotiations on rice is the right decision. Instead of trying to appease farmers’ furor over the opening of the rice market by appointing a former activist as minister, someone with a systematic and institutional approach should be appointed. Otherwise, some 100 trillion won ($96 billion) of subsidies poured into agricultural sector will be wasted again.
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