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Lee reorganizes office to bolster welfare, unity

Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday created a new post of senior secretary for social integration as part of organizational changes to better communicate with the public, a month after the ruling party’s shocking defeat in the June 2 local elections.

Entering the second half of his five-year tenure next month, President Lee Myung-bak removed the post of senior secretary for state affairs planning and instead created a separate office for planning of future-oriented strategies for low-carbon green growth, science and technology as well as broadcasting, information and communication.

Another new post called senior officer for policy support will manage major national agenda such as the four-river restoration project, regional development and policy promotion. 

Lee Dong-kwan, senior presidential secretary for public affairs, announces reorganization of Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. Yonhap News
Lee Dong-kwan, senior presidential secretary for public affairs, announces reorganization of Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. Yonhap News

“The changes in Cheong Wa Dae’s internal system are aimed at efficiently managing state affairs for the latter half of the tenure,” Lee Dong-kwan, senior secretary for public affairs, told reporters.

“The focus of the reorganization is to improve communication with the people, better prepare for the future, and to develop and execute policies for the low-income bracket.”

Hence the change from senior secretary for “social policy” to “social welfare.” He or she will supervise secretaries for “social equality and safety net” as well as labor, health and women and family affairs.

The decision to appoint a new senior secretary for social integration, who will supervise secretaries for public communications, civil society and civil petitions, was “to better listen to voices of people from all walks of life and reflect them in state affairs,” according to Lee Dong-kwan.

The number of spokespersons will be reduced from two to one, and a new secretary for overseas public relations will be appointed. The senior presidential officer for speech and message will go under the office of senior secretary for public relations.

Cheong Wa Dae is expected to announce a new lineup of senior staff as early as next week. Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee is widely reported to be one of the strongest candidates to replace presidential chief of staff Chung Jung-kil who offered to resign to take responsibility for the election defeat last month.

The organizational changes will increase the number of secretaries to the president from 43 to 45, but will not greatly change the total number of Cheong Wa Dae staff, Lee Dong-kwan said.

The overhaul of the presidential office comes ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle including the nomination of a new prime minister. Prime Minister Chung Un-chan also reportedly offered to step down after the National Assembly voted down a bill to scrap the relocation of government ministries to Sejong City and develop it into a high-tech business hub instead.

President Lee is considering introducing a new prime minister system in which he shares some of his presidential authority with the prime minister for a more stable and balanced management of state affairs.

Widely reported names for new Cabinet members include KAIST professor and AhnLab founder Ahn Chul-soo, former South Gyeongsang governor Kim Tae-ho, senior secretary of state affairs planning Park Jae-wan, first vice culture minister Shin Jae-min, GNP legislators Wohn Hee-ryong and Chin Soo-hee.

By Kim So-hyun  (