[EDITORIALS]Cabinet choices disappoint

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[EDITORIALS]Cabinet choices disappoint

The cabinet changes that President Roh Moo-hyun announced yesterday in four ministries were utterly disappointing. They were poles apart from the people’s anticipation that he would lead the country in a productive and efficient manner in the second half of his term, based on the concept of national integration. We could not even sense that he has the will to set wrong policies right. The appointments were merely to fill spaces left vacant by the two ministers who left to run for the leadership post of their party. Moreover, they were repetitions of rewards from contributions made during the presidential election and consideration for close confidantes, which make us wonder just how much the people were on Mr. Roh’s mind when he made his decisions.
The highlight of the appointments was Mr. Roh’s decision to designate the former lawmaker Lee Sang-soo as the labor minister. Mr. Lee was the chief of Mr. Roh’s campaign committee during the presidential election and was sentenced to prison for illegal fund collections. He lost his race in the most recent elections, but is now being given a government post. This endless loyalty and “taking care of the family” is just plain embarrassing. Being labeled as a recipient of political gratitude, it is questionable whether Mr. Lee can properly promote conciliation between labor and management.
Rhyu Si-min, who was considered a likely candidate for the position of health and welfare minister, has not yet been nominated because of strong opposition within the Uri Party, of which he is a member. Mr. Rhyu is reportedly far from conciliatory and has been the subject of many bad rumors.
Lee Jong-seok, who was nominated as unification minister, is the secretary general of the National Security Council and has been in charge of the foundation of the current administration’s unification, diplomacy and security policies. The current administration’s policy, which can be summarized as a “studying North Korean sentiment” policy, has been criticized as one that has intensified conflict among South Koreans and caused fissures in the Korea-U.S. alliance. His nomination signals more of the same.
Inappropriate cabinet changes deepen distrust in the government and make President Roh a lame duck early. We urge Mr. Roh to listen to critiques of the cabinet choices and promote policies in the direction that goes with the people. Especially in the areas of unification, diplomacy and security, the existing policies must be re-examined and revised to be on a realistic, strategic track.
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