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[Opinion] Cost for “Parachutes” to Land

Posted October. 04, 2006 07:08,   


It has often been said that even the supporters of President Roh Moo-hyun are turning their backs on him due to a series of controversies over the “parachute appointment in state-run businesses” that have intensified under the current administration. The Roh administration might have suffered several blows, but there are actually few “parachutes” that failed to “land,” except for a few cases including an accountant who was an unsuccessful candidate for a permanent auditor of the Korea Exchange. This does not mean, however, that the people are easily deceived—every time such controversy arises—by the excuses of the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae, “Politician-turned-executives work much better,” or “Such appointment is the political reality.”

Many cases of “parachute appointment” have similarities. Employees and members of labor unions choose to stage “anti-parachute protests” first. This is what is called a “practical response.” As the saying goes, however, history is made at night. Enjoying bomb-shots together, the “parachute” and the president of the labor union call each other “brother” and plan a “festival” for those in the “same boat.” In the “rush period” that comes every three years according to the tenure of the “parachute” chief executives, the labor union leader has to win gifts for members of the labor union. The gifts become much bigger when the “parachute” chiefs are below standards. The cost of deals between the parachute appointees and labor unions “for their own sake” is eventually passed on to the people.

Gifts from parachute appointees result in “unreasonable management.” Chief executives of state-run financial institutions—formerly dubbed “God-sent workplaces,” now called “workplaces that even God is jealous of”—resisted what the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) indicated by saying, “We cannot deal with those things immediately as we have to consult with the labor union.” The public criticism is right: “Reform on state-owned enterprises” is being frustrated by a coalition between parachute appointees and hard-line labor unions. The consequences of management aggravation, of course, are shouldered by the people.

The Uri Party and the Ministry of Budget and Planning (MBP) yesterday suggested plans to include people in labor circles in the Public Institution Management Committee in an effort to prevent parachute appointment. It seems they are trying to get their parachute appointment “authorized” by labor circles simply by inviting one labor union representative to a 20-person committee. Given that in the current committee consisting of 11 people, five civil figures were cajoled by six ministers and vice ministers, it is very confusing whether they want a labor union representative to prevent parachute appointment in the future or they are trying to win him over to their side through an institution.

Hong Kwon-hee, Editorial writer, konihong@donga.com