Appointment disappointment

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Appointment disappointment

Inauguration Day is just two weeks away, but we still have no idea about the look of the new government. None of the government officials - from prime minister to presidential secretaries - have been appointed. People are beginning to wonder whether the incoming administration is too relaxed or just incompetent.

The question is eroding the credibility of President-elect Park Geun-hye. Various polls show her approval ratings hovering around 60 percent. Former presidents Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun all enjoyed approval ratings of more than 80 percent before their inaugurations. Even Lee Myung-bak was more popular. The polls underscore Park’s failure to broaden public support since the election.

First of all, she started off on the wrong foot with appointments. The public was disappointed by her choice of an outspoken far-rightist as spokesman for presidential transition committee despite her slogan of social unity and harmony. Then a key member of the transition committee resigned with no clear explanation. Her nominee for prime minister bowed out before his confirmation hearing. Now bureaucrats are challenging Park and her transition team’s plan to reorganize the government. These cracks can widen and seriously undermine her leadership. President Lee’s leadership, too, quickly receded because of appointment failures.

Park pitched herself as “well prepared” to be president during the campaign. But in terms of recruitment, she hardly appears to have done her homework. Our political circumstances do not allow a shadow cabinet to rehearse how to govern. Such a move would draw backlash as being arrogant. But still, she should have had several candidates in mind for key posts such as the prime minister and chief presidential secretary.

Otherwise, she should not have wasted time and instead aggressively sought out for talent with outside help. But she resorted to consultations with a few aides and did not thoroughly check up on the candidates. It is why she invited criticism of being uncommunicative and excessively secretive. People still question if she really has the will and skills of a communicator.

Appointments are the president-elect’s prerogative and responsibility. They embody one’s leadership style and direction. Laudable appointments could better win public support than political rhetoric. Park told a group of local representatives she will soon complete the appointments. What’s important is the result. She must present a lineup that can truly demonstrate her leadership.
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