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[Editorial] Business Responsibilities

Posted January. 14, 2006 03:00,   


A few days ago, the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) announced, “The FKI will aggressively intervene in issues that undermine the principles of liberal democracy.” Before this announcement, the Korea Employers Federation and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry strongly denounced the National Human Rights Commission of Korea’s (NHRCK) recommendation abolishing the forced settlement of public organization labor disputes. “The NHRCK’s recommendation will shake the foundation of the market economic system in this country,” an agency spokesperson said. “The NHRCK’s view is clearly opposite to the order of constitutionalism.”

The FKI also pointed out, “Current Roh administration policy favors the ‘have-nots,’ and is not the way to go,” adding, “Beginning now, we will raise our voice on non-economic matters such as the revision of the Private School Act, the expansion of government officials’ political activities, and the abolition of the National Security Law.”

This is good, albeit late, news. The FKI has maintained a “wait-and-see” attitude to avoid conflicts with the government. But this resulted in government policies against the market system and economic activities. Now, even Korea’s liberal democracy is being challenged.

The Roh administration, which has played a leading role in dividing the “haves” from the “have-nots” by offering soak-the-rich economic policies and economic education against the market system, is condemning the rich and employers who promote such divisions as culprits. Much more worrying is the increasing number of schoolteachers teaching students that the market economic system is wrong.

In spite of this, if the number of businessmen who continue to seek their own profits, nobody can gain profit at the end.

The FKI should move beyond simply announcing its point of view on controversial matters and appeal to the public by informing them of the difficult situation the economic sector is facing. A strong liberal democracy and a developed market system does not come without cost. Developing these institutions requires investment.

Instead of spending money maintaining good relationships with political figures and lessening pressure from civic organizations, industrialists must spend money to protect the market system and liberal democracy.

This action should have been taken long ago. Our businessmen have to learn from businessmen in the U.S. who support think tank groups such as the Heritage Foundation, the CATO Institute and non-profit educational institutes such as Junior Achievement (JA).

If an individual company cannot afford to lead this change, they must unite and move forward as a group to invest in programs that protect the market system. This means that businessmen must take part in the ideological disputes that will change Korean society as well.