[EDITORIALS]Appointment by public opinionThe Blue House is going about its search for a new deputy prime minister for the economy in a very problematic way. It has deliberately leaked information about candidates for the job to see how the public reacts. When public opinion about one candidate proves negative, it seems, the Blue House introduces another. This kind of appointment process, driven by public opinion, is not only populistic but infringes on the candidates’ privacy.
Unofficially, the Blue House said at first that there were two candidates for the job: Uri Party lawmaker Kang Bong-kyun and Financial Supervisory Commissioner Yoon Jeung-hyun. But when allegations arose that Mr. Kang’s son had dodged the draft, and that Mr. Yoon had pressured a bank to grant a loan, the Blue House suddenly introduced two others: Shin Myung-ho, former senior vice-president of the Asia Development Bank, and Han Duck-soo, head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination.
Mr. Kang, whose personal problem was not an issue in the last election or when he served as economic minister, was openly embarrassed by it. If he is not appointed, the issue will haunt him every time he is considered for another post. Mr. Yoon is also in an embarassing situation. As head of the financial watchdog agency, he is in the position of supervising all financial companies. How is it that he can be disqualified from being deputy prime minister because of this issue, yet he can hold the high public office he currently does?
The Blue House lost deputy prime ministers Lee Hun-jai and Lee Ki-jun when ethical problems emerged, which is why it is trying to vet these candidates more thoroughly. Still, it is very irrational and irresponsible to lead these candidates to the market of public opinion and see who survives.
In accepting Lee Hun-jai’s resignation this week, President Roh Moo-hyun expressed resentment, saying, “Mr. Lee is no longer able to function as deputy prime minister, because public opinion has already found him guilty.” Now the Blue House itself is encouraging judgment by public opinion.
Though it takes time, the qualifications of candidates for office should be verified in a calm, dispassionate manner. The Blue House can use the National Tax Service and police to do so quietly. We believe the Blue House should adopt a systematic process for screening candidates, even if it means changing the law.