Effective administrators, not little presidents

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Effective administrators, not little presidents

 The author is a national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
“Little president” refers to someone who has as much  influence and power as the president. The mayor of Seoul is one, overseeing administration for 10 million people, or one fifth of the Korean population, with a say in almost all public policies except for defense affairs. An education superintendent has mighty authority with independent power to name heads of education institutions and appoint teachers under the jurisdiction as well as managing a multibillion-dollar budget.
Key confidantes of the president are also called little presidents: Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon is regarded as one in Yoon Suk-yeol presidency. Yoon, former prosecutor general, pushed the appointment of Han, seen as his most reliable loyalist in the prosecution, despite strong opposition from the Democratic Party (DP), which had been a ruling power before Yoon was inaugurated earlier this month. Like Yoon, Han gained favor with the Moon Jae-in government for spearheading investigations against figures of past conservative governments and later clashed with the ruling power for turning the sword at sitting government, including former justice minister Cho Kuk. After being demoted and subject to a prosecutorial probe, he rebounded dramatically as the justice minister after Yoon became the president.
Han vowed unwavering judicial principles in his inauguration speech.
“The prosecution’s duty is to protect citizens from crimes, and only criminals should fear the prosecution.” Despite the straightfor-wardness of the remarks, few would disagree with the importance of judicial principles. He has revived the joint investigational headquarters for securities crimes that had been disbanded under the Moon government amid an increase in major stock scams.
Han raises some concerns. Figures who had assisted Yoon in previous high-profile political cases have all moved to key posts in the prosecution. Executive power in judiciary affairs would center on Han as the post of senior presidential secretary on civil affairs responsible for screening senior government officials has been scrapped under Yoon.
Han is said to be upright, focused and determined as a prosecutor. But uprightness should not be the only virtue in of a justice minister. The cabinet minister must be able to persuade and discuss, yield or bend when it is necessary. Instead of acting as a little president, Han should be a communicative and mingling member of the cabinet. Only then could he prove to be as successful in administration as investigating.
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