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[Editorial] Presidential Secretaries

Posted August. 14, 2006 03:07,   


The controversy of former vice minister of culture and tourism Yoo Jin-ryong’s boot from his post due to allegations that he refused Cheong Wa Dae’s request for personnel positioning is a prime example of how presidential secretaries are involved in influencing the positioning of public personnel. Leading code appointments and appointments positioned by the authorities, they are negatively influencing civil servant policy, while rendering futile the public recruitment policy of the heads of government affiliated organizations.

Should the administration fail to reveal the truth and question their responsibilities, this in turn would amount to harming the public order.

Presidential secretaries should aid the president to perform his duties to the nation while hidden in the background, not meddle with personnel positioning or requests. The Korean citizens should not have to pay their taxes to subsidize the salaries of these Cheong Wa Dae personnel brokers.

This is not the first time that presidential secretaries have been involved in personnel management. It is a public secret that the Cheong Wa Dae was involved in an incident in 2004 when the chairman of the Park Gi-jung Korea Press Foundation retired without fulfilling his three-year post, or in the case of the first foreign minister of Roh Moo-hyun’s administration Yoon Young-kwan, who stepped down after conflicts between “independence faction” and “alliance faction” within the foreign affairs and security team.

Stories abound that in certain ministries, secretaries of Cheong Wa Dae planted people of their liking in order to form personal networks.

This is why the human resources committee of government affiliated organizations and ministerial references are becoming futile. When selecting organization heads or auditors, certain personnel would be selected in advance and included in the preliminary list composed of candidates that number three times the final amount, or have the ministers to nominate certain candidates, making it difficult to conduct fair competitions.

In some cases when the personnel selected by the secretaries are not included in the list of candidates, the list would be nullified and candidates would go another recruitment process. This happened last year while selecting a head of a government-affiliated organization of a ministry. The person who ranked third during the preliminary list underwent another recruitment process and was finally selected to head the organization.

The Office of Senior Secretary for Public Information in Cheong Wa Dae purported that they conducted an in-house investigation, but doubts linger whether thorough investigations were conducted. To have the Office of Senior Secretary for Public Information, which pressured those that refused to bow to improper influencing of personnel appointments, conduct investigations, amounts to leaving a fish to a cat. As the incident was caused by presidential secretaries who are the responsibility of the president, the president must take the lead in revealing the truth.