By Jung Sung-ki
President Lee Myung-bak ordered his Cabinet ministers to make efforts to implement the privatization of public firms, which is considered losing steam due to strong resistance from concerned labor unions, a Cheong Wa Dae official said Tuesday.
``The ministers concerned should persuade public firms' unions to complete the privatization as planned, not ask their juniors to do that,'' Lee said at a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.
The government has been under fire for its lukewarm approach toward the privatization of public enterprises. Public firms have often been criticized for inefficient management and overlapping of functions.
On Monday, the government announced it would initially privatize, merge or restructure some 100 of 305 public firms.
Those subject to mergers include the Korea National Housing Corporation, the Korea Land Corporation, the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund and the Korea Technology Credit Guarantee Fund.
Also included are the Korea Culture and Content Agency, the Arts Council Korea, the Copyright Commission, the Korea Press Foundation, the Korea Commission for the Press, the Committee for Local Press and the Newspaper Circulation Service.
During the Cabinet meeting, President Lee also called for more efforts to consolidate the Korea-U.S. alliance, according to a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman.
Lee said a closer relationship with the United States is the ``backbone'' of South Korea's diplomacy.
``Consolidation of South Korea-U.S. relations will eventually have a positive influence on the relations with Japan and North Korea,'' he said. ``The backbone of South Korea's diplomacy is its closer alliance with the United States.''
Lee asked public security offices to pay extra attention to security for U.S. President George W. Bush, he said.