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[Editorial] Ulterior Motives in Opposing Mergers

Posted October. 16, 2009 08:22,   


Certain civil servants at provincial or municipal governments are spearheading signature collecting campaigns, releasing personal information, or providing funds to likeminded organizations to block the merger of administrative districts. Such behavior constitutes acts that run counter to the obligations as civil servants. Certain provincial chiefs who in theory should prevent, manage and supervise such acts are systematically attempting to block the mergers and instigating residents instead. This raises questions over their qualification as civil servants.

The Public Administration and Security Ministry has requested the National Election Commission to investigate provincial executives or senior officials of the city of Guri in Gyeonggi Province, Cheongwon County in North Chungcheong Province, and Wanju County in North Jeolla Province. They are suspected of pressuring interest groups and village heads to stage campaigns against the mergers. Civil servants opposed to the merger between Mokpo and Muan County in South Jeolla Province participated in a fundraising campaign staged by organizations opposed to the merger. They immediately removed placards and banners supporting mergers, but left banners against the merger intact despite complaints by residents. Due to interruptions by civil servants, opinion surveys of residents scheduled for today and subsequent public polls have been delayed in succession. Public hearings on merger discussions are also being scraped or disrupted.

The merger of neighboring cities and counties sharing living and economic communities must be discussed from the perspective of public interest to maximize the people’s benefits and administrative efficiency. The most important factor is to ensure that residents enjoy better administrative services.

Forty-six cities and counties in 18 regions have submitted applications for mergers, according to the final tally closed late last month. If merged administrative districts set sail by July next year, time is running out. More concerned about their privileges, the heads of smaller administrative units who believe it more difficult to get elected mayor of a merged city and county are distorting the free will of residents and confusing national policy through illegal measures. This constitutes malfeasance, which delays the growth of provincial regions and national development.

When the merged union of civil servants joins the militant Korea Confederation of Trade Unions late this year, the situation will likely go from bad to worse. Certain civil servants are seeking to keep their “iron rice bowl” of guaranteed job security by nullifying government policy, and provincial heads are trying to take advantage of such a situation to assure personal gains. What will happen to the country if civil servants fight each other rather than try to benefit the country and people? Public servants who seek to disrupt a policy that seeks to benefit the country and the public do not deserve their posts. The ministry must strictly penalize civil servants and elected officials who illegally attempt to block the mergers and hold them legally accountable.