P.M. vows state reform

P.M. vows state reform

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said Tuesday that the government would push ahead with reform measures to "renovate" both the public and private sectors in the aftermath of the Sewol disaster.

In a nationally televised speech, Chung vowed to launch a national committee under the Prime Minister's Office to devise measures to eradicate wrongdoings and improve safety standards in the public and private sectors. The committee will include both public officials and civilian experts, he said.

"The journey to rebuild the new Republic of Korea won't be easy. It requires the participation of the people and can be achieved when the people from all walks of life pay attention," he said at a press conference at the government complex building in Seoul.

"To do so, I will launch a pan-national committee for state reform consisted of members from both the public and private sectors to form a joint force to push ahead with the plan."

The envisioned committee will have branch offices to seek ways to eradicate corruption in public office and private companies, and to improve public awareness on safety.

The committee will also draw up a master plan to enhance the country's safety standards by February, he said.

Chung's announcement came two weeks after President Park Geun-hye retained him as prime minister. Two of her nominees withdrew their nominations amid mounting opposition.

The address was seen as Chung attempting to solidify his position as a prime minister commissioned to lead Park's state reform drive announced two months ago. The prime minister's role in South Korea is largely ceremonial as most of the state power is concentrated in the president.

In the wake of the ferry tragedy, President Park announced a government reorganisation plan aimed at making her administration more effective in handling national disasters and fighting the rampant corruption in civil service. Park said she wanted to have a new prime minister to lead her reform drive, but kept the incumbent after two successive nominees to replace him pulled out. It remains to be seen how much power the prime minister will be granted for the state reform plan.

Chung said he will complete the job of state reform and put his every effort into resolving the Sewol crisis. To speed up the mission, the prime minister said he needs parliamentary cooperation to pass bills that remain pending at the National Assembly.

The Park government submitted its reorganisation plan to set up two new ministries on national safety and state administration under the Prime Minister's Office.

"A epoch-making change for public safety will be brought as soon as the Ministry of National Safety is launched … I ask for understanding and cooperation from the National Assembly," he said.

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