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Lawmakers Continue Attacks on Samsung

Posted September. 28, 2005 07:35,   


In this year’s inspection of government offices by the National Assembly, representatives of the ruling Uri Party and Democratic Labor Party are attacking the Samsung Group en masse. Some lawmakers of the Grand National Party are also joining them.

In the past, economy-related standing committees, such as the Finance and Economy Committee and the National Policy Committee, had arguments about policies of large conglomerates. This year, however, an almost full-scale campaign of pressure on Samsung is happening.

Issues related to Samsung have become important issues in the inspection into committees which appear to be unrelated to the company, including the Judiciary and Legislative Committee, the Information Committee, the Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee, the Environment and Labor Committee, and the Health and Welfare Committee.

The inspection into the National Policy Committee on September 26 and 27 was focused on speculation that the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) turned a blind eye to violations of the act to improve the structure of the financial industry by Samsung’s financial subsidiary, cyclical investment of the company, and appropriateness of the FSS measures against illegal re-aged loans by Samsung Capital. Uri Party representatives Kim Hyun-mee, Moon Hak-jin and Jun Byung-hun are on the National Policy Committee.

Some Lawmakers Want Samsung Chairman Lee Arrested-

Democratic Labor Party Representative Roh Hoe-chan on the Judiciary and Legislative Committee went so far as to say, “We should send a team to the U.S. to arrest Samsung Chairman Lee.”

Old cases, rather than current cases, are also at issue.

It seems that inspection of government offices, which is mainly intended to figure out whether the government spent tax money properly on state affairs and whether there were any policy failures, has changed into a case of finger pointing against a company in the private sector and its chairman.

A Product of Civic Organizations and the Political Circle?-

The recent wave of Samsung bashing is occurring as anti-Samsung civic groups raise the issue first, the political circle mentions the issue in the inspection, and the press reports the issue.

There are reasonable questions being raised against Samsung in the process, but some of the questions or arguments are much too unilateral and unacceptable from the company’s perspective.

Some say that the company has become alone with no support after the so-called “X-file scandal” compromised its prestige, and sentiment against the company spread in society.

A business community insider said, “Former student activists who had negative feelings toward Samsung are attacking Samsung as they join the political circle, such as the National Assembly and Cheong Wa Dae.”

In particular, the DLP defines the company as the “cradle of forces with vested interests” and is focusing on raising the issue of Samsung in the inspection.

Some experts say that the political circle is engaged in a tougher offensive against Samsung after the company filed a constitutional appeal on June 28 against the fair trade law approved by the National Assembly last year which limits voting rights of financial affiliates of large conglomerates.

Silent Complaint from Samsung-

Although embarrassed, Samsung are refraining from releasing any official commentary.

Samsung presidents recently agreed, “The only way to deal with external pressure is to pull ourselves together again and strive for better performance. We should try to make Samsung a company respected by the public.”

It is understood in the context that Samsung Vice Chairman Yun Jong-yong emphasized to employees, “We should rearm our spirit and have a sense of emergency.”

There are some voices inside the company that say, “It’s too much.”

A president of Samsung financial affiliate complained, “It is undesirable to make Samsung the target of a focused Samsung bashing, as if the political circle vents its spite.”

An executive of another affiliate also said, “Too often, I get angry at the scene in which politicians are engaged in an excessive Samsung bashing just for their political prestige.”

Some in Samsung express their concern, “However hard we may try not to be affected, there will be an inevitable negative impact on corporate activities.”

Young-Hae Choi In-Jik Cho yhchoi65@donga.com cij1999@donga.com