[EDITORIALS]More aides need to go

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[EDITORIALS]More aides need to go

Kim Byong-joon, the deputy prime minister and education minister, has resigned after 13 days in office. It is fortunate, though belated, that he accepted the public’s opinion. Mr. Kim’s resignation can be either the beginning of a more serious problem, or a turning point for a better situation.
The direct cause of his resignation is an allegation that he plagiarized a research paper. That allegation suggested that he lacked ethical values, which is a critical flaw. People’s reactions were also based on their negative feelings about the government’s so-called reform measures, which Mr. Kim championed as the chief presidential secretary for national policy.
The public opposed several government measures, including its real estate policy, and also saw Mr. Kim as arrogant. That was revealed in some of his remarks, such as “the heaviest tax measures have yet to come.”
The people revealed their thoughts and feelings through the May 31 local elections. However, as if ignoring public opinion, the administration clung to its old-timers, including Mr. Kim, and worked hard to keep them in their high-official posts by just shuffling their jobs around.
Because the administration tried its best to protect Mr. Kim over this scandal, it could be more stubborn later. But what would be the result of that? It would only accelerate the president’s lame-duck’s status. That would be unfortunate, not only for the administration, but also for the people, because they would have to deal with all the side effects.
President Roh Moo-hyun has one-and-a-half-years left in his term. This is enough time for him to earn respect and to receive applause when he leaves office. President Roh should keep his eyes and ears wide open. Mr. Roh couldn’t hear the public, because he took advice from his aides, who told him to keep Mr. Kim, even when the ruling party members and the prime minister said he should step down. Things will become even worse if those close aides are appointed as ministers, too.
A reshuffling is needed for the posts of deputy prime minister and education minister, defense minister and justice minister. The president should reflect upon people’s opinions and freshen up the administration.
If he pushes to employ people who share the same ideology as him, despite opposition from even the ruling Uri Party, unfortunate results are inevitable. The president should not blindly follow public opinion, but nothing can be done if he arrogantly ignores the public.
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