S KOREA - President Park Geun-hye's reform efforts aimed at improving safety measures and ending corruption in offices were dealt with a serious blow on Thursday.
Prime Minister nominee Ahn Dae-hee, who has been hailed as a corruption fighter, withdrew his nomination on Wednesday afternoon, saying he would be "a burden to the government" if he kept the nomination. Ahn's abrupt announcement came amid a growing speculation that he made a fortune by using his connections with former colleagues to get preferential treatment.
Ahn's resignation is expected to leave a significant vacuum in Park's reform drive initiated in the wake of the Sewol tragedy. The president said she would give larger authority to the new prime minister to end corruptive practices in public offices, seen as a factor that caused the Sewol disaster.
The president vowed to bring drastic changes to her administration by launching new ministries to improve the country's safety standards and work efficiency.
She also plans to name a new deputy premier to handle social issues, in an apparent attempt to regain public confidence.
The series of government reorganization plans is widely seen as an attempt to move on from the ferry tragedy, which left more than 300 dead or missing.
But the plans have been criticized, as they were only proposed a year after Park's reshuffle when she took the office early last year.
Her recent restructuring plan, introduced only one month after the Sewol accident, has been called reckless and inconsistent.
Critics say that she should have spent more time on her decision, because it requires substantial changes in the officialdom along with budget issues, and the plan could cause greater confusion.