[EDITORIALS]Ministers over the lineMore cabinet changes are expected next week. Inside the Uri Party, rumors have spread that ministers who are politicians will all be replaced. The maritime minister, Oh Keo-don; the environment minister, Lee Jae-young; the home affairs minister, Oh Young-kyo, and the construction minister, Choo Byung-jik, are almost certain to be replaced. About 10 Blue House aides will also reportedly stand as candidates in the local elections in May.
When Chung Dong-young and Kim Keun-tae were drafted from the Uri Party leadership to join the cabinet, the appointments were intended to improve their career records. The Roh Moo-hyun administration is even politicizing ministerial posts for the local elections.
Even though the people have chosen the administration, the people never gave permission for it to freely hand out ministers’ posts. How can this administration possibly discuss national governance with a cabinet that has been transformed into a waiting room for political candidates? Who can possibly believe that decisions made by this cabinet were for the nation’s interests rather than those of the administration?
Those mentioned for replacement are ministers who had run in past elections in districts where competition was fierce, were defeated and were appointed ministers as compensation. Now, they are agreeing to run for local office in return for having served in ministerial posts, and the cycle has apparently become an established practice. Perhaps another round of election losers will be appointed to important posts again in June.
Mr. Lee and Mr. Choo accompanied Mr. Chung, now Uri’s chairman, on his visit to Daegu recently. At a meeting with the press there, Mr. Lee shouted that it was time to replace the leadership in that region. He said in a speech that that was especially true in Daegu and North Gyeongsang province. It was hard to say if Mr. Lee was a minister or a mayoral candidate.
Mr. Choo attended a general meeting of the Uri Party and Mr. Oh is visiting Busan every weekend, including a book-signing trip at the Busan Chamber of Commerce on Sunday.
In his New Year’s address, President Roh said cheaters and crooks should lose in the May elections. He is right, and we should check to see if some ministers’ partisan actions are illegal. A public servant must be neutral and no candidate should campaign prematurely. We need fair election management from this administration.