An out-of-touch transition

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An out-of-touch transition

President-elect Park Geun-hye’s transition committee has drawn criticism for vague proposals and a lack of communication. The sudden resignation of Choi Dae-suk, a committee member and a strong candidate for the next minister of unification, raises a cloud of questions, yet everyone remains tight-lipped. Yoon Chang-jung, spokesman for the transition committee, said that Choi withdrew for personal reasons, and Choi reportedly sent e-mails to friends backing up this reasoning. So what’s all this secrecy about?

Filling positions on the transition committee should not be taken lightly, and those with interests that could hamper work efforts should never have been hired in the first place. An abrupt and surprising resignation could come across as a power struggle, and the lack of any clear explanation only fuels rumors. Even if Choi decided to step down for personal reasons, there should be a full explanation. Confidentiality is not the best policy.

If the committee fails to formally respond to these questions, it could start the new government on the wrong foot with a negative public image. The transition committee has been overly protective and secretive about its affairs. And this overreliance on secrecy is not limited to personnel issues.

For instance, the committee now only briefs the press on the titles of government reports given to the committee. Such opaqueness about even the most fundamental reports undermines citizens’ right to know. Though officials in charge of the transition may want to avoid unnecessary confusion through unwanted leaks and media reports on half-baked policies, excessive secrecy could spur misunderstandings or worse.

The president-elect should be blamed for her inability to clearly articulate her intentions and those of her committee. The reports given by spokespeople often differ when delivering Park’s opinions because she has not been clear, even when talking with her staff. She may wish to keep a low profile before officially taking office in order to avoid the impression of usurping President Lee Myung-bak’s power, but she should at least provide enough guidance to prevent internal wrangling among committee members. Her desire not to interfere is actually generating noise.

Since the transition committee has only been active for a few days, the confusion and missteps in initial stages can be forgiven. But we don’t want more secrecy or surprises. An out-of-touch transition behind closed doors could lead to a government that does not represent the voters to whom it owes its victory.
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