Mend the appointments fiasco

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Mend the appointments fiasco

Minister of Health and Welfare Chin Young’s intended resignation clearly illustrates the Park Geun-hye administration’s problems with appointments to top government posts. The core problem lies not only with the way Chin tendered his resignation, but also with the way the administration handled it; there was a critical lack of firmness. In the past six months, three top officials - the Board of Audit and Inspection head, Yang Kun; Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook; and Chin - have stepped down amid friction with the administration. The president must swiftly dismiss Chin and find a replacement.

A minister is the chief officer of a whole ministry and a member of the cabinet. In particular, the role of welfare minister is crucial as welfare policy is a pivotal part of the administration today. Chin was appointed to the top post thanks to his earlier roles as chief secretary to Park when she headed the Saenuri Party, vice chairman of the Committee for People’s Happiness in Park’s campaign and deputy head of the transition committee. With that strong background, he should have behaved himself.

But Chin’s explanation of his resignation went back and forth. At first, an aide told the press that he would resign after taking responsibility for backtracking on the basic pension that Park pledged during her presidential campaign. After that created a stir, Chin attributed his resignation to frustration he suffered due to limited money and manpower, not to the pension plan. Then he said he was resigning because the government rejected his proposal to not link the basic monthly allowance to the national pension program.

Whatever the truth, those can’t be reasons to resign. The scaled-down basic pension scheme is not Chin’s fault, but the administration’s, because the administration reached its conclusion due to a lack of funds. Whether or not he opposed the administration’s idea of linking the monthly payment to the national pension program, he should have accepted it once the decision was made.

The welfare ministry has to deal with many important issues other than the pension, and the limits on budget and manpower are common problems facing other branches of the government. Chin’s decision to resign has once again damaged the dignity - and discipline - of the Park administration. The president should have ordered her staff to find the real reason for his resignation and then made a clear-cut decision.

All three senior officials who stepped down showed some drawbacks. The president must fix the appointments fiasco once and for all.

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