With G-20 over, Lee tackles pending issues

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With G-20 over, Lee tackles pending issues

As the G-20 Summit wrapped up last week, the Lee Myung-bak administration is set to start tackling pending domestic issues, including a plan to redraw the country’s century-old administrative zones and filling vacancies in his government.

Lee made his first initiatives to reorganize the nation’s administrative districts and to reform the electoral system in his Aug. 15 Liberation Day speech last year. They were repeated again in his Liberation Day speech this year, and during a media conference on Nov. 3, he called the pending issues his priority for domestic affairs after the G-20 Summit.

Created more than 100 years ago, the country’s administrative zones have failed to reflect the changed reality of regional economies, Lee said, stressing that redrawing the districts is the key to improving the country’s efficiency and competitiveness. Lee has recommended reforming the election system to end the country’s perennial problems associated with regionalism.

Over the weekend, Lee also said in an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo that more concrete plans for the reforms will be presented before the end of the year.

The basis to reorganize the nation’s administrative districts was already established when the National Assembly passed a special law in September. Under the law, a presidential commission is to be established, with the mission to create a master plan for the reform and report to the legislature and the president by June 30, 2012.

Blue House officials said work has begun on creating the commission, with it likely to be launched this month or December.

Blue House spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung said yesterday that Lee’s approval rating was more than 60 percent in a survey taken over the weekend. The improved rating appeared to raise morale at the Blue House.

“During the fourth year of his term, we want to see some outcomes of our people-friendly policies,” a Blue House official said. “The success of the G-20 Summit will double Lee’s driving force.”

But the opposition Democratic Party had a different reaction to the reform. DP spokeswoman Jeon Hyun-heui said Lee’s initiatives on the electoral system and reform of administrative districts is a political plot to keep him from becoming a lame duck.

“At the legislature, urgent issues have piled up, including the budget bill,” she said. “And yet, Lee said he will present a concrete reform plan before the end of this year. His intention is seriously suspicious.”

In addition to the reform programs, Lee is expected to appoint to his administration senior officials whose selections have been delayed due to the G-20 Summit.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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