President-elect Lee names Cabinet

Updated: 2008-02-19 07:25

The Republic of Korea's (ROK) president-elect announced yesterday what analysts described as an experienced but bland Cabinet, naming veteran bureaucrats to the key posts of finance and foreign affairs.

Lee Myung-bak, a conservative former construction firm boss who takes office on Feb 25, has pledged to encourage business investment and boost the economy while mending ties with allies the United States and Japan.

"I've promised to revive the economy," Lee told a news conference announcing his Cabinet. "The first step would be to make a small but effective and capable government."

Former vice-finance minister Kang Man-soo was named to head the finance ministry, as widely expected. Kang, who rose through the ranks of the finance ministry, is considered a proponent of business tax cuts and a central bank that cooperates more closely with government economic policy.

Lee's choice of Yu Myung-hwan, a seasoned diplomat and current ambassador to Japan, as foreign minister signaled a pragmatic approach to ties with Washington and Tokyo compared with an often tense relationship during outgoing President Roh Moo-hyun's term, analysts said.

For the top official to command the country's 670,000-strong military, Lee named former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lee Sang-hee as defense minister.

Plain-speaking Lee Sang-hee is known as a straight-forward military man who has openly criticized politicians in the past for using the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's perceived threat to the ROK for political purposes.

Most of the other Cabinet choices were bureaucrats and academics.

Lee is likely to escape the taint of being linked to a firm suspected of securities fraud. Parliament has ordered a special investigation into the case and that investigation is scheduled to conclude about the same time Lee takes office.

Yonhap news agency said the special counsel probing Lee's suspected role in the fraud have found little evidence to take legal action against him. A separate team of prosecutors last year cleared him of any wrongdoing.


(China Daily 02/19/2008 page11)