Park needs A-team to get it right

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Park needs A-team to get it right

President-elect Park Geun-hye unveiled 24 members of her transition team last week. Of them, 14 are specialists who served as advisers to Park during her campaign. They will have to shape the government’s framework and vision over the next seven weeks before it is formally inaugurated on Feb. 25. Park kept to her earlier promise to put together a team best equipped to draw up policies rather than simply rewarding her loyalists for their contributions to her campaign.

Unlike past transition teams, Park is relying more on professors, as scholars head most of her subcommittees. But she must not forget that while professors can offer their insights and ideas about their particular fields, they can also suffer from a certain lack of real-world experience and detachment from practical considerations, which could also affect their ability to successfully execute such policies.

There are few politicians on the team. Among them, Representatives Yoo Sung-kull and Lee Hyun-jae, who both head economic subcommittees, and Kim Jang-soo, who chairs the foreign, defense and unification affairs subcommittee, are first- or second-term lawmakers. This means that there are only two experienced political veterans on the team: Chin Young, deputy chairman of the transition committee, and Han Gwang-ok, head of the special committee for national unity.

Park and the other members of the transition team do not have much time to play with; in fact, no other team has had such a late start since that of Roh Tae-woo, the nation’s first directly elected president. This means Park is about 10 days behind where her predecessors Kim Dae-jung and Lee Myung-bak were at this point in their respective moves to take office.

Although there are about 50 days to go until the new government is inaugurated, the team will have to wrap up its work before February to give Park enough time to make all the necessary appointments. This means it only has 30 days to get most of the work done in time.

Previous teams often made the mistake of being overly eager, whereas Park’s will need to muster its collective wisdom to fix key policy directions in a sensible manner but within a squeezed time frame. The team must first re-examine the president-elect’s campaign promises to decide which take priority. It must decide which are most urgent and how much it can realistically achieve. Many conflicts that undermined previous administrations all began because the transition team didn’t do a good enough job. Let’s hope Park’s team gets it right.
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