Redefining national securityThirteen days after the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry, group memorial altars are to be set up in 17 locations across the country. Every adult must be held accountable for this unprecedented tragedy so such an accident is not repeated again.
Prime Minister Chung Hong-won tendered his resignation to President Park Geun-hye yesterday after taking responsibility for the disaster. The president accepted his decision to step down, but the timing of his exit will depend on when the crisis is settled. We wonder if he can still play his role as prime minister if he remains in office, because he has already lost the public’s trust.
However, the responsibility for the tragedy does not fall on Chung’s shoulders alone. The ministers of security and public administration as well as oceans and fisheries failed to address the situation from the start. So the prime minister’s resignation should be followed by other officials in charge.
President Park must also accept responsibility. After the tragedy, she merely criticized bureaucrats for their inept responses and their avoidance of duty before and after the incident. President Park must confront the fact that she appointed all the ministry heads involved in the crisis herself. On behalf of the entire cabinet, she must apologize to the public and completely reshuffle the cabinet.
After the prime minister’s resignation, politicians from both sides of the aisle are trying to gain political advantage ahead of the June 4 local elections. They must reflect on what they have done so far - other than fighting over issues totally irrelevant to people’s livelihoods and safety.
Fortunately, a National Assembly committee has decided to deliberate on seven bills related to safety at sea, while the ruling Saenuri Party plans to propose new bills to eradicate bureaucratic connections with related maritime industries. The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy is also preparing to offer a list for better legislating public safety.
We propose establishing a bipartisan committee to enhance public safety with the full participation of the public and private sectors to come up with a credible report on assessing the functions of most government agencies. The concept of security must be extended to public safety now. Our government needs to consider establishing a unified security agency as the first step to government reform.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 28, Page 34