The credibility gap continues

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The credibility gap continues

At a nationally televised press conference yesterday, President Park Geun-hye described her governing plans for the remainder of her term, which ends in February 2018. She pledged to focus on economic recovery and four major structural reforms, saying, “If we miss this opportunity, we cannot grow over the next three decades.”

Park’s more flexible attitude toward North Korea and Japan also deserves a compliment. But her remarks fell short of being persuasive, and the people may still wonder about their level of support for her government over the next three years. Despite the public’s demand for increased communication with citizens and a reshuffle of her tarnished administration, her speech only contributed to increasing the credibility gap with ordinary citizens.

Regardless of her apology for a controversial leak of a Blue House document, the president did not present her ideas for full-fledged reform of the government. She also didn’t address such critical issues as her brother’s involvement in the scandal, conflicts among her aides and alleged abuse of power by her three closest aides. Park brushed aside all those tricky issues, including unceasing suspicions over her former aide Chung Yoon-hoi, who was at the center of the scandal.

As for the demand even from the ruling camp for the replacement of the three “doorknob” aides, who control access to the president, she rebutted all allegations by saying that you don’t dismiss people on suspicions alone. She demonstrated her abiding trust in Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon, who has been under fire for recommending unqualified candidates for high-profile positions in the government. Such an obstinate image only disappoints the people.

Even though so many people worry about the president’s lack of communication skills, she denied any problem. When asked if she rejects face-to-face meetings with ministers, she said that telephone conversations and emails are more convenient. Looking to her ministers at the conference, she asked them, “Do you really think such meetings are necessary?” That’s the wrong answer to the right question. The problem is the abuse of power by her “doorknob” aides who know how to keep the door shut.

If the president adheres to such a philosophy, it will hamper her governance. That’s why we look forward to a new system of special advisers. Only when the president kick-starts a massive reform drive can the people follow. As she said, national reinvention is not something the president can do alone.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 13, Page 30

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