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S. Korea's transition team to tackle long to-do list

Publication Date : 04-01-2013


South Korea's President-elect Park Geun-hye’s transition team has a long to-do list to prepare the incoming government for a weak economic outlook, prickly relations with neighbouring countries and a clamor of calls for wider welfare.

With a mandate to pursue “national unity and happiness” as touted by Park, a total of nine sub-committees and two exclusive committees are likely to start work as early as this weekend.

About 100-strong and led by chairman Kim Yong-joon, vice chairman Chin Young and 24 committee members, the team will be dispatched to temporary offices in three different locations in central Seoul. They include the Financial Supervisory Services’ training centre in Tongeui-dong where Park and her secretariat will be situated, Korea Banking Institute in Samcheong-dong where most of the transition team offices will be located, and an annex building of the Central Government Complex in Changseong-dong.

Park’s secretariat is likely to be comprised mostly of her close aides, including those who have been at her side for the last 15 years. The three, including Lee Jae-man who helped Park on policies, Jeong Ho-seong who was in charge of political affairs and messages, and Ahn Bong-geun in charge of her schedule, are expected to play a key role in selecting the upcoming Cabinet.

“Forming the Cabinet is something that the president-elect will be taking care of separately,” Chin Young told reporters earlier this week.

There are two sub-committees dedicated to economy, with one centering on the overall economy, and the other on industrial fields. They are to be in charge of drawing up the blueprints for Park’s ambitious plan to maintain growth engines while helping small and medium-sized businesses with wider welfare.

Sources suggest that macroeconomics experts are likely to join the economic team to draw up the measures. Some of the likely candidates are professors Kim Gwang-doo of Sogang University, Shin Se-don of Sookmyung Women’s University and Hong Gi-take of Chung Ang University. All three have worked at Park’s former think tank. Kim and Shin, in particular, have been “study buddies” of Park since her first presidential primary in 2007.

Other potential members include Rep. Na Seong-lin, who helped on pledges on the public’s livelihood, Rep. Min Byunng-joo on creative industries and Rep. Kim Se-yeon on economic democratisation.

Park has formed a new sub-committee on employment and welfare in line with her pledge to prioritise employment as the foremost welfare measure.

Park’s economists are also likely to start discussing the supplementary budget for this year. The budget composition that passed through the National Assembly this week is largely leaned toward wider welfare subsidies. The next government will likely face calls to come up with measures to secure financial stability such as by supplementing the anticipated shortfalls in tax revenue.

“If the economy worsens as anticipated, the next government must come up with new measures to vitalize the economy or maintain stability,” Saenuri Party floor leader Lee Hahn-koo said in a radio interview earlier in the week.

The sub-committee on law and social safety, meanwhile, is expected to work on ways to eliminate the four social evils that threaten public safety as identified by Park, in addition to reform measures for the prosecution. Among the agenda items will be the abolishment of the Central Investigation Department at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, a reduction in the number of superintendent-level prosecutors and a stronger screening process for prosecutors.

Other sub-committees include those on state affairs, political affairs, foreign, defense and unification policies, education and science, and women and culture.

The two special committees to work in conjunction with the transition committee have already been announced, including one on unity and another on youth. The personnel decisions for one of the committees, however, have already caused a stir.

Rep. Kim Sang-min, who will be heading Park’s special committee on youth, admitted there were some problems in naming the members to his team.

“I believe it is true that there was some inappropriateness in (naming some of the members),” he said in a radio interview, referring to two of his members who were found to have been involved in irregularities in the past. He suggested the president-elect address such issues as soon as the entire team formation is finalised.

On running his committee, Kim said a debate would be held Friday with around 80 representatives of universities to discuss college tuition cuts and other pledges for youth.


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