These delays are unhealthyOnly five days are left until President-elect Park Geun-hye is sworn in as president. Regrettably, however, we can hardly expect a smooth transition of power at the current pace. Despite a mounting nuclear threat from North Korea and some tough economic challenges at home and abroad, Park’s plan to reshape the government to increase the effectiveness of governance for the next five years has hit a wall due to disagreements with the reorganization by the opposition. The political standoff is exacerbated by delayed confirmation hearings for Park’s nominees to her cabinet. If some of her appointments happen to fail to make it through the legislative scrutiny, we may have to wait for more than a month until she presides over her first full cabinet meeting, which is reminiscent of the fate of the Lee Myung-bak administration. He was only able to hold his first cabinet meeting three weeks after being sworn in.
The main opposition Democratic United Party insists that the new Ministry of Future Planning and Science should relinquish control of broadcast policies to the Korea Communications Commission. It also contends that the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission be an independent organization rather than putting it under the future planning and science ministry. The DUP also wants to empower the Small and Medium Business Administration.
The party calls for a special committee to decide the agenda for deliberations at the National Assembly. But that takes time. On the other hand, the ruling Saenuri Party repudiates the DUP for blocking a successful launch of the new administration by demanding a legislative investigation into the Ssangyong Motor labor dispute and a public hearing on media strikes as a precondition for approving Park’s government reshuffle.
It is not appropriate for lawmakers to hand the most urgent issue of government reorganization over to a committee. The DUP must respect the plan of Park and her ruling party which won the presidential election last December. If the Saenuri Party’s plan proves ineffective, the responsibility will be borne by the ruling party. If the reorganization is delayed, it could damage the new administration’s leadership. But that will not translate into political gains for the opposition.
In fact, President-elect Park fell short of convincing the public of the need to change the government. Both the ruling and opposition parties must quickly pass the plan by focusing on the merits and demerits of the plan without political considerations.