Challenges for Mr. Clean HandsPresident Park Geun-hye nominated former chief justice Ahn Dae-hee as her new prime minister and fired Kim Jang-soo, head of the National Security Council, and Nam Jae-joon, director of the National Intelligence Service. The decision was the biggest reshuffle of her cabinet since the launch of her conservative government 15 months ago.
Although Park’s chief of staff Kim Ki-choon remains in office, Ahn’s nomination hints at a significant change in the running of the administration. Blue House spokesperson Min Kyung-wook said the president nominated Ahn to push ahead with the task of overhauling the entire nation. The president believes he will successfully carry out this mission.
Famous for conviction, courage and reform-mindedness, Ahn drafted a reform plan to systematically abolish politicians’ prerogatives as head of a special political reform committee in Park’s campaign during the last presidential election. He is also known for plainly expressing his position to his bosses. As head of a special investigation team at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office during the days of President Roh Moo-hyun, he got to the bottom of a scandal involving the Grand National Party’s illegal campaign funds and arrested Ahn Hee-jung, then a confidant of Roh, for election fraud. Bravery of that sort earned him the nicknames “Mr. Clean Hands” and “The People’s Prosecutor.”
The April 16 Sewol tragedy is a catalyst for major change in our society. In a step toward that goal, the Korea Coast Guard will be disbanded, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration will be split and a new national safety agency and administrative reform agency will be created. Above all, Ahn must untie the Gordian knot of deep-seated connections and collusion between government officials and the industries they oversee in the private sector.
As a special committee on the Sewol tragedy will be launched at the National Assembly, Ahn also must listen to what the opposition party demands. Accepting his nomination yesterday, he pledged to speak plainly to his boss. He must keep that promise.
The presidential spokesman said the new prime minister will recommend candidates for ministers to the president from now on. President Park has been under attack for her appointments based on personal relationships and loyalty. If she allows the prime minister to recommend candidates for ministers, it will mark the biggest change in her style of governance and a positive one. So far, the president was stingy in giving ministers enough power. We hope she delegates her power to her new prime minister and other officials.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 23, Page 30