In search of real change

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In search of real change

President Lee Myung-bak announced a new cabinet lineup for his remaining term. Since its crushing defeat in the June 2 local elections, the Lee administration has been under heavy pressure to make a drastic reshuffle. Lee appears to be looking to appease demands for fresh faces in the government by appointing a 40-something governor as prime minister, though he filled his cabinet with a group of loyalists.

His decision to shake up his administration is a sign that he would rather run the government with his confidants rather than truly infuse his cabinet with new blood. So we still have doubts as to what kind of change this “cohesive cabinet” can bring.

There’s no doubt that bringing in a 48-year-old to fill the prime minister post is a ground-breaking experiment. With the decision, Lee is attempting to bring about change in the government.

The new Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho, the former governor of South Gyeongsang, was successful on the local political level. He also is from humble beginnings, like Lee himself.

But if Kim wants to prove his appointment to the post was a wise decision, he should seek to carve out a new role for the prime minister. Aside from his overall tasks unique to the position, he must also emerge as a strong leader.

There are still questions about whether the president’s new cabinet has the right makeup to achieve efficient communication and help bolster the government.

The administration has so far been severely criticized for concentrating power in the hands of just a few people. Its excessive use of power to win elections, arrogant approach to opponents, pushy execution of national projects and lack of rapprochement with the opposition have created much bitterness.

In that sense, President Lee stopped short of recruiting fresh, reform-minded candidates, as he filled most of the new posts with aides from his presidential campaign and opted to rehire some people who created conflict inside the ruling camp.

If he had tried harder to find stronger people from the outside, it would have been better.

His diplomatic and security staff also remains intact. There is still no one who has directly dealt with North Korean affairs among them. To remedy our lack of security management - as seen in the Cheonan incident - and to be better prepared for an unexpected turn of events when it comes to North Korea, it’s much better to fill top security posts with seasoned professionals. The National Assembly must now scrutinize these new faces and ensure that the administration is headed down the right path.
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