Reform plan must go further

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Reform plan must go further

The Grand National Party s special committee on reform has written a proposal to reshuffle the cabinet, the Blue House and the party leadership in an attempt to improve the administration s governance and the party s operation. The proposal was delivered to the party leadership and the Blue House.

The key to the administration s reform is communication with the public and harmony with the ruling party, and the proposal appears to reflect those goals.

The special committee advised the president to begin the politics of engagement and change his attitude to better communicate with the public. It also recommended that the president bring on people who can offer constructive criticism and communicate directly with opposition parties. Those recommendations are appropriate, but the effectiveness of other parts of the reform proposal is doubtful.

We believe the current situation is rooted in the split within the ruling circle, with the conflict between President Lee Myung-bak and former GNP chairwoman Park Geun-hye at the center of it all.

The committee proposed that the GNP bring on new leadership as soon as possible. But holding a party convention amid factional conflict may spell trouble. Rather, the committee should have advised Lee to thoroughly engage Park.

The committee also proposed forming a new cabinet to unite the nation. The ruling circle is incapable of mending its internal ruptures, and the slogan of uniting the nation appears to be nothing more than empty words. If the proposal was to advise Lee to appoint ministers regardless of hometown and alma mater, it should have directly said so.

It also said the prime minister should be given more power, but this is a sensitive issue in the presidential system. Lee Hoi-chang, who had argued for more power when he was prime minister, clashed with Kim Young-sam, who was president at the time. During the Roh administration, the prime minister s office became so powerful that it led to confusion as to who was really controlling the government.

The committee also proposed that a special monitoring body be established to check on possible corruption by presidential kin and top public servants. But that would overlap with the civil affairs office of the Blue House, the prosecution and the Board of Audit and Inspection.

As October by-elections and local elections in June of next year draw near, reform has become a necessity, not an option.

The president and the ruling party leadership must not be afraid to make bold decisions that will give the GNP and, indeed, the country a fresh start.
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