Go to contents

[Editorial] Qualification Matters

Posted August. 30, 2007 10:07,   


National Police Agency (NPA) Commissioner General Lee Taek-soon is not up to his job. His unqualified leadership poses a problem in leading a 150,000 strong police organization. A police chief’s qualifications, character, and leadership play a definitive role in steering a police organization that needs solid discipline. The NPA referred Hwang Un-ha, an administration manager of the police academy, to the agency’s disciplinary committee for criticizing him for Lee’s mishandling of the assault case involving Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon. It was nothing less of a personal retaliation.

Hwang’s public call for Commissioner General Lee’s resignation may be viewed as an act that undermines the official discipline of the agency. However, Lee’s inappropriate act should be examined first. Discipline doesn’t come by shutting police officers’ mouths. Only a leader who listens to criticism deserves to be the head of the police.

President Roh Moo-hyun confirmed that he had no intention to replace Lee. Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Chun Ho-sun said Wednesday that what the president wanted to protect was not the commissioner general but the discipline of the police. His statement is right and, in this regard, Lee’s resignation is inevitable in order to tighten police discipline. However, the president himself is not free from responsibility, since it was the president who appointed Lee to the position and attempted to cover up the matter. This is why we cannot see Roh’s decision not to dismiss Lee is a legitimate exercise of his right to staff appointment. Capabilities of leaders really count, regardless of whether it is for the nation or for the police.

It would have been right for Lee to decide to step down from his post when the incident happened. His testimony before the National Assembly denying the allegation that he had a telephone conversation and met with officials of Hanwha Group has proved to be a lie. The fact that he played golf with them has also been divulged, severely compromising the public’s faith in the police. Lee provoked a backlash and hurt the pride of the police by calling for prosecutors to investigate all officials except for him. In relation to the government’s measure to revamp press coverage practice, he unilaterally prohibited all reporters from covering the case, which once again revealed that he is not up to the responsibilities as head of the democratic police organization.

“He is not fit for the position of commissioner general because it requires morality. He told a lie and deserted his conscience,” said Buddhist priest Myeonjin, who resigned from the NPA’s civil inspection committee, saying he was disaffected by Lee’s unjust actions. As Myeonjin pointed out, we cannot delegate him the responsibility of safeguarding the nation.