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S.Korean president carries out large-scale cabinet reshuffle

08-09-2010 07:38 BJT

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday announced nominees for nation's prime minister, as well as chiefs of seven ministries, in a move to conduct a reshuffle in the cabinet to gain the fresh momentum for President Lee Myung-bak's reform drive.

South Korea's new Prime Minister nominee Kim Tae-ho speaks to the media in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak named Kim, a former provincial governor, as his new prime minister on Sunday as part of a Cabinet reshuffle. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
South Korea's new Prime Minister nominee Kim Tae-ho
speaks to the media in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Aug. 8,
2010. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak named Kim,
a former provincial governor, as his new prime minister
on Sunday as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)

With Kim Tae-ho, former governor of South Gyeongsang Province, appointed as nominee for prime minister, changes were also made in seven other areas including education, culture, agriculture, knowledge and economy, welfare, labor ministries and minister without portfolio.

The government shake-up also involved two ministerial-level posts, including the chief of prime minister's office and the president of National Labor Relations Commission, as well as two vice ministerial-level posts including commissioner of the National Tax Service and Minister of Government Legislation.

The cabinet reshuffle, third and the largest-scale one since Lee Myung-bak took office in February 2008, has been long anticipated since the nation's ruling Grand National Party (GNP) suffered a crushing defeat in local elections in early June, which had been widely viewed as a mid-term referendum on Lee's conservative administration.

After his party's lose, Lee, who seeks a fresh start as he enters into the second half of his single five-year stint in late August, vowed to chart a new policy roadmap with reshuffling the cabinet and the presidential secretariat to make them more efficient, and readjusted his policy priorities based on closer communication with the public and the younger generation.

In related moves, Lee has completed the realignment of the presidential secretariat by the end of last month, while Chung Un- chan, former prime minister, offered his resignation on July 29 to take responsibility for the government's failure to secure parliamentary approval for a revised plan on the construction of a new administrative city in South Chungcheong Province.

The keynote of the reshuffle was finally set after the ruling GNP gained the overwhelming victory in the by-elections carried out on July 28. 

The new cabinet will be the "youngest" one in Lee Myung-bak administration, with an average age of 58.1. Kim, born in 1962, is the nation's youngest prime minister nominee in nearly 40 years.

Cabinet ministers with expertise and experience in their 50s and 60s, and a prime minister in his 40s indicate that "the newly organized government will seek to improve communication with the younger generation and bring together people from different regions and classes," according to Hong Sang-pyo, senior presidential secretary for public relations, in a press briefing.

Hong also said Kim was selected due to his experience in the local political community, as he worked with initiative and drive when he served as the governor of the nation's southeastern coastal province.

Kim, after Cheong Wa Dae's announcement of the cabinet's new lineup, vowed to make efforts to accomplish Lee's policy focuses on centrist pragmatism, enhancing services for ordinary people and economy recovery.

He also pledged to play a leading role in the government's efforts on achieving national communication and unity.

Meanwhile, President Lee Myung-bak also sent a signal of maintaining stability of the administration by keeping ministers of foreign affairs, unification and national defense in their positions.

It's widely believed the stay of the chiefs of three major ministries, even after the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which took 46 sailors' lives and was seen as a biggest naval tragedy in the country, indicates that Lee will continue to maintain consistency of the government's foreign and security strategy.

The ruling GNP welcomed new cabinet lineup, saying the move will contribute to form a more balanced government, and it will greatly help promote mutual understanding between the government and the party, according to the GNP spokesman Ahn Hyoung-hwan, quoted by Seoul's Yonhap News Agency.

However, the opposition parties attacked the reshuffle nominees as "regionally biased", as the Cabinet was filled only with people close to the president.

All cabinet post designates are to go through parliamentary confirmation hearings upon the government's request, according to the South Korean law. But minister nominees are not required to secure the parliamentary endorsement for their appointment.


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