Wrap up the reshuffleWe’re fortunate that the Lee Myung-bak administration nominated Board of Audit and Inspection Chairman Kim Hwang-sik to the prime minister post yesterday, moving a step closer to finalizing its cabinet reshuffle.
If the opposition parties accept the nomination at confirmation hearings, Kim can step into his new role by the end of September at the latest. Although he has yet to pass the National Assembly’s tough screening process, he likely won’t face harsh opposition considering that both political camps have reacted fairly positively to the announcement.
The administration has had a difficult time running the country ever since South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Tae-ho gave up his nomination for the prime minister position last month. Though 38 days have passed since former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan resigned, the seat has been vacant for 81 days when considering that he actually quit on June 29 after the National Assembly voted down a revision to the Sejong project.
In the absence of a prime minister, the Blue House has had to step in whenever problems occur, making coordination among departments and cooperation between the Cabinet and the ruling party more difficult. The recent scandal involving nepotism at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the controversy over moves to abolish the national examination for civil service jobs will remain unresolved without the assistance of the prime minister.
To make matters worse, the resignation of foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan further hurts our national image. President Lee cannot even appoint a new foreign minister without a prime minister, as there is no one to recommend a replacement.
Additionally, the situation has affected preparations for the G-20 Summit in Seoul this November. The leaderless foreign ministry is having trouble even contacting its counterparts in a time when it should be ramping up diplomatic efforts. It’s much more comical that the Minister of Knowledge Economy and the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism are still in office even though they’ve already had going-away parties, as the administration can’t come up with replacements. Fortunately, the opposition parties appear much more cooperative on Kim’s nomination. In terms of creating a “fair society,” as President Lee has proposed, Kim is an appropriate candidate, as he has been working as head of an inspection agency and was formerly a justice with the Supreme Court.
The administration has faced criticism for its lack of communication since 2008. Perhaps Kim will rejuvenate dialogue when he takes office.