[EDITORIALS]Welcome a woman premierRepresentative Han Myeong-sook has been appointed prime minister. If the National Assembly approves Ms. Han’s nomination as prime minister, the country will have its first female prime minister. Although many female ministers had been appointed so far, they served at several particular ministries, such as the Gender Equality Ministry, as a nod to women by the administration.
This time as well, there is concern that the prime minister will be one in name only, without having powers independent of the president. The new prime minister must speak honestly with the president and carefully deal with current national issues so that the nation will not be disappointed with its first female prime minister.
The former prime minister, Lee Hae-chan, was replaced because of his arrogant attitude. Mr. Lee showed excessive partisanship, and lost the heart of people by provoking the opposition party with unnecessary arguments. Looking back on Mr. Lee’s wrongdoings, the new prime minister should establish a reliable cabinet by working and communicating with the opposition parties.
Ms. Han should take care of President Roh Moo-hyun’s administration for his remaining term. It is hard for her to launch a new policy at this time. Still, there are so many problems to resolve, such as revitalizing the economy, concluding the free trade agreement between Korea and the United States, renovating the national pension system, dampening real estate speculation, solving the issue of the low birth rate, preparing for an aging society and dividing investigation authority between police and prosecutors. All of these need the cooperation of the opposition parties.
Ms. Han has much experiences in democratic movements. There is thus the possibility that she will adopt a one-sided approach. Ms. Han was in prison in the 1970s since she worked for the human rights group Christian Academy, and her husband was also imprisoned for being involved in the Tonghyuk Party, or unification revolution party, allegedly established by a North Korean spy in the 1960s. She co-proposed a bill to abolish the National Security Law, gave up her vote on the governing party’s law to investigate past regimes’ criminal activities on the grounds that it was not strong enough, and criticized U.S. policy on North Korea over human rights and counterfeiting.
The prime minister mediates and governs national affairs. Ms. Han, who is considered to be mild and good at arbitrating, should be generous and listen to public opinion regardless of her own past experiences.