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[Editorial] What Created Secret Investigators?

Posted April. 18, 2009 08:59,   


The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae is the Korean government’s backbone and control tower in which the president draws the overall picture for state affairs supported by his secretaries. Under previous governments, public officials were honored to serve at the presidential office. When authoritarian governments came to power, only officials considered outstanding could work at Cheong Wa Dae. Since the democratization movement of the late 1980s, however, those who play a key role in a party’s nomination of a presidential candidate or in the presidential election have worked at Cheong Wa Dae without the proper process to verify their qualifications. Along with such a change, the selection of many Cheong Wa Dae staff has invited public criticism.

It is hard to believe that the sex scandal involving Cheong Wa Dae staffs appeared on March 25 was just an accidental event. Some even argue that several Cheong Wa Dae staffs have not behaved themselves at the office, while receiving improper requests and getting along with other government officials or businesses related with their duties. Some Cheong Wa Dae officials are even suspected of receiving bribes.

Sources close to the presidential office even say staff at any presidential secretariat have relations with those familiar with the powers that be. "Invisible hands" that have struggled to post unqualified close associates at Cheong Wa Dae should also feel responsible. Certain analysts say a series of scandals is a sign that elite power groups turn a blind eye to the faults of their political opponents due to their cozy symbiosis.

Cheong Wa Dae is paying keen interest to suspicious workers, but those who need to be watched 24/7 should not be at the presidential office. It is hard to predict how the Lee administration with its untrustworthy staff will be judged after four years.

At the same time, however, the sex scandal rocking the presidential office can be a chance to uncover Cheong Wa Dae’s internal problems. The office announced that it will enact and release a "moral code for staff" soon. Unqualified staff can hurt colleagues even when stricter moral codes are established, however. In short, Cheong Wa Dae staff who represent serious moral hazard or who are unqualified should be removed from the presidential office. The Lee administration should reflect on recent scandals and consider if recent phenomena have resulted from its lack of humility and fascination with its record victory in the 2007 presidential election, where the president won by a margin of 5.31 million votes over the runner-up.

Certainly, many Cheong Wa Dae officials have devoted themselves to the government 24/7. Filthy water, however, undeniably contaminates even clean water if put into the same bucket. In a speech to commemorate Korea’s 1960 revolution, President Lee said yesterday, “Koreans are the very people who can survive any crisis. DNA that helps to overcome the crisis runs in Korean blood.” Nevertheless, the government should remember that other nasty cases could reappear and deprive hard-working Cheong Wa Dae staff of their enthusiasm unless unqualified workers are removed.