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[Opinion] Privileges of Government Officials

Posted October. 05, 2004 21:54,   


Once people land jobs, contrary to the past, they do not expect that they can continue working at the same job until their retirement age. Since 1997, when the nation’s financial crisis drew the intervention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), such a trend has begun to prevail in this country, and has accelerated despite the seven years that have passed since then. No occupation provides lifelong security. Paid workers are obsessed with developing themselves in order to maintain their positions at their workplaces, or to find other jobs when they leave their current ones. Their lives are becoming harsh.

However, there is only one group that shirks such harshness. It is government officials. During the National Assembly’s audit of state affairs yesterday, it was revealed that a number of retired officials were rehired by affiliated organizations. Out of the 47 officials of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism who retired over the last two years, 16 took new positions at affiliated organizations, and in the case of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), out of total of 86 retirees, 42 are now working as executives of financial institutions. The Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, and the Ministry of Science and Technology also have similar cases. Among officials who left office due to their involvement in bribery or corruption scandals, about 200 were rehired either by public organizations or private companies that they were not allowed to work for because of their previous violations of the public servant code of ethics and ethic law.

Of course, it is not blamable for professional, capable officials to move to affiliated organizations. Furthermore, their experiences can be helpful in improving organizational competitiveness. However, if those who do not have professional skill and capability grip core positions of organizations only because they were officials in important government departments, that is nothing but an unfair benefit that will help them prepare for old age. In addition, they will play a negative role in organizational efforts to develop professionalism, and also dampen other officials’ morale by making personnel procedures less flexible. Meanwhile, in the case of FSS, how can we believe that an audit is implemented in a proper way if those who conducted the audit a few days ago are receiving the audit?

Unemployment is a core problem today. Yesterday, statistics revealed that four out of 10 college graduates fail to find jobs. And as we speak now, a number of families are falling in danger of dissolution as their breadwinners, after being laid off due to corporate restructuring, have not yet found jobs. While some are struggling to survive in the jungle, some are enjoying unjust luxurious lives. Life seems absolutely unfair. If the frustrated unemployed knew of government officials’ absurd privileges, it would make them crazy.

Song Young-eon, Editorial writer, youngeon@donga.com