Give Chung room to workThe National Assembly has confirmed Chung Un-chan as prime minister - the second one during the Lee Myung-bak administration. Chung made it through the confirmation process thanks to the ruling Grand National Party, but he didn’t escape unscathed. Opposition parties will continue to raise questions about legal and ethical allegations against Chung at the Assembly audits, so the scandal could last for some time.
Chung was Seoul National University’s president, an indication of his considerable intelligence. But the confirmation process has left much of the nation with a bitter taste and has created a psychological burden.
Chung is by law the new prime minster, but he is greatly indebted to the people. During the confirmation hearing, Chung for the most part acknowledged his mistakes and expressed his desire to make up for them by serving the nation. It’s important now that he takes concrete actions.
Under the current constitutional structure, the position has its limits. But even so, there is plenty of room for Chung to contribute to the success of the administration - as long as the president recognizes the prime minister and Chung actively seeks his own space.
Chung is a fresh face for the Lee administration. He can take on the role of arbitrator by offering blunt assessments and advice to the president on national affairs. As an economist, Chung has promoted the state’s active involvement to improve the market economy and increase benefits for the common people. As prime minister, Chung should get his hands on specific policy-making processes, strive to minimize polarization and create an economic structure for the well-being of ordinary citizens.
Chung is from Gongju, South Chungcheong, which would fall under the new administrative hub of Sejong City. By virtue of his birthplace, he is the perfect candidate to persuade South Chungcheong residents to resolve the issue.
Now that the confirmation voting is over, the opposition needs to give Chung some time to work. They can leave the matter of filing criminal charges against him to the prosecutors and the judiciary. And if, as they say, Chung’s confirmation was indeed out of line with the public opinion, then the burden will fall on the Lee administration. Voters selected the majority at the National Assembly, and the confirmation process was also valid as it was the result of the general elections. If the opposition lawmakers ceaselessly harass the prime minister during the National Assembly audits, then they will be criticized for staging attacks out of parochial political motivation. Controversial as it may have been, the confirmation is over. Now it’s time to work.