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Moon must change (KOR)

Aug 31,2018

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President Moon Jae-in has shuffled five major cabinet positions, including the ministries of education, defense, trade, labor and gender equality and family. Those ministers received low scores for their performances in appraisals by the Blue House and Prime Minister’s Office. Criticism arose over some ministers who failed to meet high expectations from the liberal administration.

But if the changes in personnel do not lead to adjusting government policies, the effect will be halved. As it turns out, the Moon administration’s scorecards for its minimum wage hike and income-led growth economic policy are not very sterling despite undeniably good intentions. This is not the time to push failed policies with arrogance and self-righteousness. The liberal administration should have cleansed itself of policy based on political dogma, but core members of economic ministries stayed on. That suggests the administration will press on with those untested economic experiments. Without fundamental shifts in economic policy, the government cannot revitalize our economy, which appears to be in a steep tailspin.

Moon must cooperate with opposition parties to return some momentum to his administration. The ruling party can’t pass a bill without their backing because it is a minority in the National Assembly. Despite the government hinting at the possibility of recruiting a minister or two from the opposition camp, it did not do so. It abandoned an effective way of demonstrating the spirit of co-governance.

The cabinet has been under fire. Most people do not even know who the ministers are. Only the presidential office is visible. The president vowed to empower his cabinet but, in fact, nothing has changed. This cabinet is no different from the last one, which simply write down whatever former president Park Geun-hye said.

A reshuffle should be an opportunity to review government policies and correct them if they have proven ineffective. The president needs to consider the idea of implementing an additional reshuffle of the cabinet and revamping his aides in the Blue House as well. In his second year in office, he must show achievements rather than relying on emotional slogans.

Above all, the government must stop its destructive campaign to “root out past ills.” It must abandon ideology and pursue a pragmatic path if it wants to help the economy overcome its slump. Only Moon can make the cabinet work more energetically. If he does not change first, the reshuffle will be meaningless.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 31, Page 30
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