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[Editorial] Chameleons of Government Posts

Posted December. 25, 2007 07:00,   


Government officials who were in the vanguard of pushing unreasonable policies are quickly changing their stance in an attempt to maintain their posts under the new administration. They remind us of mean-spirited people involved in a survival game. Some of the senior government officials who were even reluctant to answer phone calls from reporters from major newspapers to tag along the Roh Moo-hyun administration’s oppressive media policy are now visiting temporary press rooms to appeal to once-mistreated reporters. When asked about the closure of the press rooms, one government official in charge of media relations tried to make an excuse saying, “You know… We didn’t do it because we wanted to do it.” He argues that he is innocent because he had no choice but to follow the instructions of the Roh administration. He is a good example of public servants who try to evade responsibility no matter what.

A director of the Ministry of Construction and Transportation who was busy criticizing the cross-country canal project proposed by then Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak is also saying, “The relocation of the capital as well as the development of innovative cities proposed by the Roh Moo-hyun administration were not economically feasible, either. We cannot help but change our hostile attitude towards the canal project.” How irresponsible he is to change his words and reasoning on the feasibility of the innovative city or canal project to the taste of those in power.

The incumbent administration fueled political uncertainties and market slowdown by churning out anti-market policies. The public officials of the Fair Trade Commission and the Government Information Agency acted as if they were the hound dogs of the Roh administration frantically hunting critical media. The ministers and deputy ministers must share responsibility of their maladministration. In addition, the public servants who blindly followed them in pursuit of promotion or self-interests should also feel deeply responsibly for their deeds, which have shaken the basis of a democracy and market economy. However, irresponsible public servants are blaming it all on President Roh Moo-hyun.

The Constitution and laws guarantee job security of public servants in order to help them carry out national projects fairly and rationally while maintaining their political neutrality. However, this system, which was introduced to ensure that public servants are able to perform their duties with minimum influence on the government, has ironically been exploited and used as an umbrella by some government employees who protect themselves by repeatedly changing their color whenever a new administration takes office. It is important to note that the public servant job security system was not introduced so that public servants can overlook their misadministration. Maladministration, which has undermined the freedom of the media and the foundation of market economy, must be sternly addressed and those public servants responsible for it should be held accountable even if it means holding a hearing.