Go to contents

[Opinion] Nepotism, Government-Style

Posted July. 17, 2006 03:49,   


When Kim Dae-jung administration was closing to its last stage of governance, one influential government official unofficially said, “We don’t have anything like lame duck periods because the president can exercise his right of personnel management until the last day of his term.” Such confidence seems prevalent among aides of President Roh Moo-hyun as well. When closing to the last stage, administrations are very cautious about compensating those who contributed to the establishment of its ruling power and developing measures to prevent possible lame duck syndrome. This is quite ambivalent because unless proper compensation goes to the early contributors, it may accelerate lame duck syndrome from inside as their dissatisfaction comes to grow.

Resumes sent from political figures are piling up in the office of presidential secretary for personnel management. Political figures keeping close relationships with Roh administration who are intimidated by the fact that the Roh administration has only one and half year left are now taking actions to obtain career opportunities. According to a source, most of them look for stable positions that promise high incomes, such as presidents of the government affiliated organizations and public enterprises. Given the fact that presidential secretary for personnel management is deeply involved in deciding the employment of these positions, it is absurd to say that Cheong Wa Dae has nothing to do with personnel procedures of these organizations.

From the perspective the ruling bloc, there is no problem to hire people in accordance with the degree of people’s contributions to its power establishment, loyalty to the party and familiarity with its political position.

According to Bahk Jae-wan, a lawmaker of the major opposition Grand National Party, after President Roh came to office, as many as 282 high-ranking positions of government affiliated organizations and public enterprises were filled by ruling politicians (134) and government officials (148) by using unjust processes and personnel connections. (This is a figure recorded by the end of last year). Stimulated by criticism over this, the government obligated these organizations to employ people through public recruitment by law this year. However, of 92 high-ranking positions open this year, ruling party politicians and officials filled 42 positions. Such a result proved that the government’s effort was not effective at all.

Hiring people through ways like this damages the organization’s credibility and effectiveness because they lack professionalism and tilt to a particular political position. When unjust employment like this occurs, union members strongly resist by blocking their entrance to the office. However, this can be construed as an expression to ask for larger share of windfall gains. As a result, they usually make a compromise after finding ways to engender more burdens to the people. In regard to this, President Roh said, “I am willing to give up a certain degree of my right to personnel management, if this can improve the management effectiveness of these organizations.” His words sound great, but actions don’t follow them.

Lee Jin-nyong, Editorial Writer, jinnyong@donga.com