S Korean PM goes golfing at crisis, hints at quitting
"I am very sorry for causing concern to the people with my behaviour," said Lee's spokesman Lee Kang-jin.india Updated: Mar 05, 2006 10:03 IST
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, who was caught playing golf at work, has apologised and even hinted at his resignation.
The Prime Minister, who is a close ally of President Roh Moo-hyun, has been under fire for going golfing on Wednesday, the first day of a nationwide walkout by railway workers.
Lee was on leave that day, a national holiday marking Korea's 1919 civil uprising against Japanese colonial rule, but he was heavily criticised as South Koreans expect high-level officials to work overtime during times of difficulty.
The walkout by railway workers severely curtailed train services across the country, forcing the cancellation of almost 80 per cent of long-distance passenger trains on the first day of the walkout.
"I am very sorry for causing concern to the people with my behaviour," said Lee's spokesman Lee Kang-jin.
"I will talk to the President regarding my future course of action after he returns from a trip to Africa."
His remarks were taken to mean that he is considering stepping down, but his office refused to discuss any details.
The President begins an eight-day visit to Africa on Monday, which includes stops in Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria.
Further dogging Lee were accusations from the Opposition and the media that his golf partners included businessmen who had allegedly provided illegal political funds during the last presidential election in 2002.
Opposition parties have threatened to seek Lee's ouster unless he steps down voluntarily.
The prime minister is largely a ceremonial job in South Korea where state power is concentrated in the hands of the president.