Cordoning off outside pressure

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Cordoning off outside pressure

After President-elect Park Geun-hye’s transition committee embarked on government reorganization, related ministries are fiercely lobbying to keep their interests. Some are sending their own reorganization plans to the committee and others are making a direct contact with its members. The ministries also try to exercise their influence via interest groups or scholars. Government ministries’ behavior has reached a worrisome level.

Here’s why. Apart from an argument for establishing deputy prime minister-level posts for economy and welfare, some now demand the establishment of a Ministry of Future, Creation and Science, a Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, and a re-establishment of a Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries as Park promised during her campaign, not to mention a demand for elevating heads of the Small & Medium Business Administration and the Ministry of Veterans Affairs to minister-level. Others propose to set up standing committees for culture, academic affairs, mid-sized enterprises and security under the offices of president and prime minister. The Ministry of Justice is intensely lobbying for the establishment of a separate organization handling immigration and nationality issues under its umbrella. But their attempt to enlarge their size - without restructuring efforts - is not coherent to Park’s intention to cut the fat and fund her welfare pledges.

The hottest battleground is a ministry with three attractive keywords: future, creation and science. Apart from vehement claims by the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Korea Communications Commission, different groups are joining forces to make their voices heard. For realigning of the organizations handling information and media affairs, former officials at the now-defunct ministry of information and communication insist on creating a comprehensive ministry covering communications, broadcasts and other contents, while some insist that a section handling broadcast policies be separated from the current Korea Communications Commission. That could all end up a short-lived apparatus with overlapping functions.

One example is the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Despite the Lee Myung-bak transition team’s intention to reduce the size of the Ministry of Education, the ministry instead became a mammoth after absorbing the Ministry of Science and Technology. It is again put on the chopping block in five years. The transition committee must maintain balance by rejecting outside pressure.
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