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(Yonhap Editorial) Putting Park's administration on the right track
SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- Figures of the ruling Saenuri Party, government and presidential office will have a joint conference on Saturday as part of efforts to boost their cooperation on the Park Geun-hye administration's policies and projects. The meeting means that all major officials under the administration will get together for the first time since it was inaugurated more than one month ago. Although it is a belated meeting, the meeting should offer the administration an opportunity to get its business of running state affairs on the right track.

   A total of 72 senior officials from the ruling party, government offices and the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae will take part in the meeting. Among them are the party chief Hwang Woo-yea, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, 15 ministers and two vice ministers, as well as Presidential Chief of Staff Huh Tae-yeol and all nine senior presidential secretaries.

   During the past month in office, the president and the ruling party continued to lose favor with the public, mainly due to the government's flip-flops over appointments of top echelon people. According to recent surveys, the approval rate for Park fell way below 51.3 percent, the percentage of votes she obtained in the December presidential election. The embarrassing resignation by her first prime minister nominee, Kim Yong-joon, in January, coupled with subsequent resignations of five other nominees for the administration's higher posts, have kept the public estranged from the administration.

   But the administration has yet to offer an apology for the personnel appointment setbacks, with no one from the presidential office ever being reprimanded. Park and the ruling party also have disappointed the public by showing the lack of political capabilities to compromise with the opposition party on the passage of Park's government restructuring bill. The ruling party should have taken a flexible approach to its talks with the opposition party while persuading the president to come up with a solution. But it stuck to Park's idea that the bill could not changed, creating political gridlock that left the new government in limbo and state affairs bogged down.

   The important task of the administration's three elements now should be to reflect on their earlier lackluster performance and to set up a system in which they are able to communicate effectively so that they can implement its policies and projects aimed at realizing Park's campaign pledges.

   For the ruling party's leadership, gaining improved communication channels with the presidential office and the government is all the more important because it needs to deliver the people's feelings and its advice as a political party who has a majority at parliament. Presidential secretaries and government officials must give the ruling party a clearer picture of state affairs and seek its support.

   The three elements' meeting comes as the country is facing security and economic challenges. North Korea has been threatening a nuclear attack on almost a daily basis this month. On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered the country's strategic rocket forces to be placed on standby to strike U.S. and South Korean targets after two B-2 stealth bombers conducted first-ever operational drills over the Korean Peninsula. On the economic front, the government has trimmed the economy's growth outlook for this year to 2.3 percent from the previous 3 percent forecast due to toughened market conditions at home and abroad.

   In these difficult times, the party, along with the government and presidential office, should work harder to come up with measures to assuage the public's concerns about the security crisis arising from North Korea and ways to get the economy back on track. It is hoped that Saturday's meeting will be a turning point for the administration to put its policies and projects into action.

  (END)
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