Published : 2013-09-16 20:20
Updated : 2013-09-16 20:20
It has dismayed and worried the public that the ruling party has recently flip-flopped over the location of the headquarters for two new ministries created under a campaign pledge by President Park Geun-hye.
Ruling party lawmakers on a related parliamentary committee and the minister of public administration agreed last Thursday to place the main offices of the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry and the Science and Future Planning Ministry in the administrative town of Sejong in the central part of the country. Only two hours afterward, policymaking officials of the Saenuri Party rejected the agreement, saying the party had not yet finalized its stance on the issue.
This nonsensical move came apparently out of fears over possible backlash from residents in the southeastern port city of Busan and lawmakers elected from districts there. During her campaign last year, Park pledged to restore a ministry in charge of maritime affairs, which was abolished by the former administration, and suggested locating its headquarters in the port city. “A review is underway in that direction,” she said at the time.
The location of government agencies must be decided in consideration of how to ensure that the administration will work efficiently and thus enhance national interests. Political calculations should be barred from influencing the decision.
In realistic terms, the best option seems to be to move the headquarters of the Oceans Ministry, which is now temporarily housed in a government building in Seoul, to Sejong. If inevitable to soothe Busan residents, consideration may be given to placing a least part of the ministry’s organization in the city. In that case, however, the government is certain to face demand from people in the southwestern coastal areas in the Jeolla region that part of its function should be hosted by their region, too. Residents in Gwacheon, south of Seoul, where the Science Ministry currently sits, would also protest its transfer to Sejong.
If swayed by political consideration instead of adhering to the principle of administrative efficiency, the issue of locating government offices would further exacerbate regional rivalry and hamper administrative work.
All necessary efforts need to be made to persuade Busan residents, but it should also be noted that all campaign pledges cannot be kept.