New blood, fresh start

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New blood, fresh start

A drastic shake-up has freshened the presidential secretariat. The pool from which to choose new people has been enlarged beyond the president’s personal network. As a result, talented people with rich experience are to be hired, making the presidential office more stable than before. The appointee for chief-of-staff is a professor and he is expected to lead the second team of the presidential office skillfully, thanks to his vast experience and broad network.

The new presidential secretaries must not repeat the same mistake as their predecessors. The new members must learn from the problems of the outgoing members. The problems can be summarized in three points.

First, no presidential aide dared voice opinions the president didn’t want to hear. The president can’t be replaced but his dominant style of governance must be changed to carry out reform. To do so, presidential aides must be able to express honest opinions to counter the president’s judgment if he is wrong. The presidential staff shouldn’t work merely as servants to the president ? they sometimes need to serve as the brains of the president. In particular, the chief-of-staff must take the lead. But even those who welcome the new appointee for chief-of-staff regret his lack of determination.

Second, many former presidential aides acted as if they were powerful bosses while they were unable to grasp their tasks. The presidential secretaries must serve as channels connecting the president and other ministries. They shouldn’t ignore the ministries’ perspectives and public opinion. They shouldn’t pursue unreasonable personnel affairs or government policies, saying they are the president’s will. Many of the new presidential secretaries are former government officials. They will be different from their predecessors who did not know what was going on in the ministries. However, the new secretaries are so familiar with the ministries that one worries if they will govern the ministries at will.

Third, the former presidential secretariat lacked figures who could see affairs comprehensively. The new members must not be too preoccupied with their own tasks to look at situations from a broader perspective. They must not overlook the importance of cooperation with other government bodies. Presidential secretaries must be able to make correct judgments. The presidential aides must have the capacity to manage the presidential office, adjust to and mediate among ministries.

The people have high expectations from this shake-up. The new presidential secretaries must show that they are different from their predecessors. The first step is to learn lessons from problems in the Blue House that disrupted state affairs.

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