A curious resignationPresident Park Geun-hye has replaced Lee Jung-hyun, her senior secretary for public affairs, with Yoon Doo-hyun, head of YTN Plus. She selected a journalist for the crucial job of representing her in national governance. The president can choose whomever she likes to fill the positions of her senior secretaries. As the role of the communication director is closely related with people, however, she should have made the decision more carefully and prudently.
First of all, the timing of her appointment - and the way she picked a new secretary for public affairs - seems quite inappropriate. The president has yet to nominate a new prime minister and revamp her cabinet and other Blue House staff after the Sewol ferry disaster and the June 4 local elections. High profile positions like the senior secretary for public affairs should be changed in the overall context of the reshuffle. We wonder why the president replaced Lee outright without any explanation.
The reason for Lee’s replacement is quite unclear. No one knows if he was replaced because of his potential involvement in pressuring KBS to report news in favor of the administration or because he was worn-out after 15 months of hard work. Or did he step down for personal reasons? Considering the wild rumors that Lee will run in the July 30 by-elections or serve in the cabinet, his departure seems to have nothing to do with reprimand or censure. If he had resigned because he was exhausted, that’s a different kind of problem. Under the Lee Myung-bak administration, there were many senior presidential secretaries who were devoted to the success of the government until the very end.
The Park Geun-hye government is in crisis after the ferry tragedy. The tougher the times it faces, the more loyal the president’s staff needs to be. Then why is Lee, a core Park loyalist, leaving his job as the mouthpiece of the president?
If he wants to run in a July 30 by-election or join the cabinet, he must be replaced in accordance with the overall plan of the reshuffle. But if he resigned to buy more time - or if the government wanted to give him more time - that does not correspond to the crisis the government faces.
Appointments are about messages. As long as such uncertainties prevail, the public can hardly grasp what messages the president wants to deliver. Whenever his spokesperson was changed, President Barack Obama brought both the outgoing and incoming spokesperson to the briefing room at the White House and explained why he made the decision.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 9, Page 34