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Unnecessary intervention

Nov 29,2017
The Blue House is acting as if it can run state affairs under the pretext of executing civilian petitions. Under the presidential system, aides would inevitably have to get involved in state affairs and coordinate between the president and the government. But when they overstretch their power, they could bring misfortune to themselves, the president and the people.

Senior Secretary for Civil Affairs Cho Kuk appeared on a video posted on the Blue House website to answer to a petition that gathered 200,000 signatures from the people demanding the legalization of abortion and abortion pills.

Since taking office, President Moon Jae-in has opened a public forum on the Blue House website welcoming people to petition any complaints they may have directly to the president, and vowed to make related officials answer to topics that gather more than 200,000 signatures.

Cho said the government will conduct a nationwide survey next year to gauge public opinion, adding his personal belief that the strict abortion law is unfair.

Cho has crossed the line in the role of a presidential secretary. In politics, secretaries must stay in the shadows. Recently, he even stopped by a National Assembly conference room for the first time as presidential secretary for civil affairs and pitched the need to establish an independent bureau to investigate the wrongdoings of public officials.

Under the Korean Constitution and laws, only the president, prime minister and ministerial-level officials are entitled to manage state affairs. They have the right to sign off on public policies. This is why cabinet members are known as “ministers” instead of “secretaries” as in the United States. If presidential aides step up to address key policies, why do we need government ministers?

The Blue House can receive petitions from the people. But it should be the government offices that provide responses to them. The Blue House has already grown to have a staff of 900 and become bigger than the White House. It must watch its role.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 28, Page 34