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60% of Ministerial Aides Have Political Strings

Posted April. 22, 2008 04:05,   


The new government is put in an ethical dilemma as more than the majority of the ministerial policy aides come from “revolving door” personnel movements.

Many point out that this simple fact casts the administration’s original purpose to provide a way to assist the government’s policy establishment function into the shade.

According to a survey by the Dong-A Ilbo Monday on 22 ministerial policy aides of the Lee Myung-bak administration, 13, or 60 percent, of them were found to have served as aides to lawmakers or executive staff members of a political party.

Many criticize that it is nothing short of a grant of rewards in recognition of their service rendered, given a significant number of them were found to have ties with Cheong Wa Dae or the ruling Grand National Party.

The official posting was introduced in 2003 by the Roh Moo-hyun administration. A ministry whose chief belongs to the Cabinet is eligible to appoint ministerial policy advisors equivalent to public officials of the second to fourth grades.

The newspaper found a number of cases in which a minister-elect takes his or her assisting personnel and aides when assuming the post.

Kim Chang-jun, policy aide of the Health and Welfare Ministry, used to serve as chief of the financial department of the Association of Social Workers and was appointed by Health Minister Kim Seong-yee, who was the president of the association at that time.

Some personnel recommended by Cheong Wa Dae or political parties show their career incapability to keep up with the work they were assigned to carry out.

A minister is said to have instructed his aides to find out his policy aide’s background and source of recommendation when an unknown political coordinator was appointed to his ministry.

Lim Jun-taek, policy aide of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Marine Affairs, said, “Since there are limits in the perspectives of public officials, the post of policy coordinator is necessary to bring about new perspectives from outside.” Lim has been working at the ministry for two years.

Civic groups, however, raise their voices against the possibility of the posts being abused for sustaining a political reward system or serving as a window for political lobby.

The GNP had vowed to amend this government measure, blaming that the positions were merely arranged to reward those figures for their meritorious contributions for then President Roh.

Choi Yeong-chul, a professor of administration at Chungbuk National University and government reform chief of the Citizens` Coalition for Economic Justice, said, “The policy coordinator system is nothing but a typical hunting for office that has long lost its original purposes. I believe that it is time we should abolish it or make a drastic reform since it does not stay in line with the Lee administration’s pragmatism.”