Editorial Notes

Seoul should not change Cabinet ministers too often: The Korea Herald

South Korea's President Park Geun Hye's (above) move to change cabinet ministers too often sets a bad precedent, says the Korean Herald.
South Korea's President Park Geun Hye's (above) move to change cabinet ministers too often sets a bad precedent, says the Korean Herald. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

In its editorial on Dec 9, 2015, The Korea Herald says President Park Geun Hye's move to do so sets a bad precedent.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye is set to reshuffle the Cabinet soon, with at least five ministerial posts expected to be affected. 

The impending Cabinet appointments have been necessitated by the five Cabinet members' plans to run in the general election in April. 

The five include three incumbent lawmakers who want to seek re-election - Finance Minister Choi Kyung Hwan, Education Minister Hwang Woo Yea and Gender Equality Minister Kim Hee Jung.

In addition, Minister of the Interior Chong Jong Sup and Trade Minister Yoon Sang Jick are mostly likely to run on ruling party tickets. 

This means the Cabinet shakeup is conducted due to the ministers' election plans, not due to their poor performance, policy failures or other inevitable reasons.

It tells us that they should have not taken the Cabinet posts in the first place. 

The Park administration has inherited a bad tradition of the South Korean presidency - bringing lawmakers into Cabinet posts and sending out ministers to compete in elections. 

It is understandable that, as the chief executive, the president needs good ties with the ruling party and the National Assembly as a whole.

But the practice of installing lawmakers in the Cabinet lineup does more harm than good. 

Those who join the Cabinet without renouncing their parliamentary seats only make brief stopovers as ministers, and the new appointees and bureaucrats in each ministry know well that the newcomers' stints will be short.

Under such circumstances, few ministers and officials would be able to forge the reliable, effective relationships needed to run state affairs. 

A vivid example is Ms Park's appointment in March of Representatives Yoo Il Ho and Yoo Ki June as the transport and maritime ministers.

Ms Park pushed ahead with the appointments knowing that she had to release them for the April elections. Both stepped down in November, serving in their ministerial positions for just eight months.

This absurd practice must end. 

What's a little relieving is that potential Cabinet appointees being mentioned by administration officials and the media this time are mostly former and incumbent government officials and academics.

It is hoped that Ms Park will not repeat her past mistake of selecting the wrong people.

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The Korea Herald is a member of The Straits Times' media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 22 newspapers seeking to promote coverage of Asian affairs.