The acting president’s challenges

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The acting president’s challenges

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will be acting on behalf of President Park Geun-hye until the Constitutional Court delivers its ruling on the legitimacy of her impeachment. Hwang has promised to commit to the emergency role with conviction and devotion as a public servant and prevent any vacuum in state management. He said he would do his utmost to ensure national integrity and stability. The military has been placed on an emergency stance, and the National Security Council should keep watch of North Korea and work closely with the international community on the nuclear threat.

Another urgent task is the economy, which has weakened sharply on top of slow exports. The deputy prime minister for the economy and economic management should be realigned quickly. Hwang must work with the legislature to legitimize the deputy prime minister as both the incumbent Yoo Il-ho and recently nominated Yim Jong-yong awkwardly share the same position. The cabinet must see to it that political troubles do not spill over to the economic and security fronts.

Hwang should work closely with the legislature — particularly the opposition camps that hold the majority — in administrative affairs. The opposition is critical of Hwang because he led the prosecution’s investigation of a progressive party that led to its breakup. He would add more insecurity to a weakened administration if he does not gain the confidence of the legislature. Choo Mi-ae, the opposition Minjoo Party’s chairwoman, suggested forming a policy council between the legislature and administration. The two must cooperate to quickly restore order in state affairs.

Hwang must oversee a presidential election as well as transition of power if a snap election is held. Political attention will then shift entirely to the presidential race. If an emergency election is held, the president-elect may have to go right to work without a transition period. Fair election management and good governance will become pivotal.

Prime Minister Goh Kun acted on behalf of President Roh Moo-hyun while he waited for the Constitutional Court’s ruling on his impeachment and took pains not to disrespect the president. Back then, it was highly likely that the impeachment would not go through and the president’s administration was still powerful.

But the conditions are different this time, and the court’s review could take as long as six months. The acting president must not overly contain himself to be mindful of the president. He must be bold on the actions necessary for national interests.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 10, Page 30
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