Sub-prime ministerPrime Minister Han Duck-soo said Wednesday that state research institutes need to review the feasibility and adequacy of the campaign pledges made by presidential candidates.
He added that most of the pledges have the potential to strongly impact the nation’s economy and will require an immense budget. On June 19, President Roh Moo-hyun said in a Cabinet meeting, “It is the duty [for the government] to review the policies of the presidential candidates and provide information about them to the people.”
Roh emphasized that a number of research institutes under the government exist for this purpose. Calling it “order from the president,” Roh was obviously aiming at the two leading candidates of the Grand National Party ― Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye.
At that time, we criticized Roh for encouraging public servants to interfere in the election and we emphasized that they should refuse the “order.” Because of its nature, it is nearly impossible for the government or its affiliated organizations to fairly review the pledges made by candidates in the opposite party. Civil servants tend to be conscious of the taste of the government. A report that cannot guarantee objectivity will hurt the opposite candidates, and waste taxpayer money. Most of all, the order puts public servants in factions. The order should be rescinded.
Still, the prime minister continues to emphasized that the wrongdoing is necessary. He supported president’s illegal idea in the very meeting designed to strengthen public discipline. At the ministerial meeting, he should have instead been reminding the public servants to be taking a strict neutral stance toward the election.
Past governments have tried to be impartial toward the election by appointing a politically neutral figure as prime minister in the last period of their tenure. Hyun Soon-jong in the Roh Tae-woo administration, Goh Kun under Kim Young-sam and Kim Suk-soo under Kim Dae-jung are examples. At that time, prime ministers did not intervene in presidential elections. The prime minister is under only one man, and is above all the rest.
Will Han avert from everyone except for one man? If president’s order is illegal, he should leave office. Lee Hoi-chang, the former prime minister, clashed with then-President Kim Young-sam when the prime minister was excluded from a meeting discussing issues related to North-South Korea relations. In the end, Lee left office.
Because Han is acting like Roh’s servant, people consider prime minister useless.